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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 October 2007, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Burma lifts curfew in main cities
Child monks in Rangoon
Rangoon had been under curfew for a month
Burma's military regime has lifted a curfew in the two main cities, imposed last month amid pro-democracy protests led by the country's monks.

The decision was announced in Rangoon, the country's main commercial city, over loudspeakers mounted on military vehicles driving around the streets.

A curfew was also lifted in Mandalay, in an apparent return to normal life.

Authorities have released a number of prominent detainees - but diplomats say thousands remain locked up.

The whereabouts of thousands of monks who took part in the protests in September are unknown.


"I'm happy that the curfew was lifted. It was really affecting businesses and people's moods," a Rangoon resident in his early 30s told AFP news agency.

It was unclear whether a government ban on assemblies of more than five people had also been lifted.

Burma's ruling generals appear to be confident that they have regained control of the cities, and that there won't be a resumption of the massive street protests, says the BBC's Chris Xia.

It will also be seen as a signal to the outside world that concerns over human rights abuses are misplaced, and that life is returning to normal.

In Washington, the White House said the lifting of the curfew was a "bad sign" that the government now felt confident it had succeeded in repressing dissent.

Press secretary Dana Perino urged Burma's ruling junta to enter talks with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The junta has offered to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, but only if she renounces her support for economic sanctions on Burma.

Fuel price

The latest wave of protests dates back to the middle of August, when the government doubled the price of fuel, which in turn pushed up food prices.

The demonstrations, initially led by about 400 anti-government activists, soon snowballed into the biggest protests Burma had seen in several years, as tens of thousands of monks joined in.

On the worst day of violence, 27 September, the junta said nine people had been killed, but the death toll is thought to be far higher.

International pressure on Burma to institute democratic reforms has mounted since the protests, with the US announcing a further tightening of sanctions on Friday.

A look at Burma after recent protests


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