The military continues to step up attempts to crack down on protests in Myanmar. They are taking an increasingly prominent position on the streets and made hundreds of further arrests overnight. There are also worrying reports of a rising death toll.
Security forces sealed off areas of central Yangon with barricades and used batons and warning shots to disperse thousands of protesters on Friday. Eye witnesses also reported several instances of troops firing at fleeing protesters. Despite the increased difficulties facing demonstrators, reports suggest that around 10,000 protesters - mostly young people - are continuing to organise marches. Monks are no longer visible on the streets.
Up to 300 overnight arrests have been reported, as well as numerous house raids by the police and military. Many leading activists are believed to have gone underground. Military trucks equipped with loudspeakers now roam the city streets warning against protecting people evading capture. The arrests continued during the day, with concerns growing about the well-being of hundreds of people detained so far.
The military is increasing its stranglehold on Yangon, with the city's main boulevard and the important Sule Pagoda seemingly under complete army control. There have also been reports of a clampdown outside Yangon after unrest in Mandalay, Sittwe and Magway.
The repression also extends to the media. Internet and phone lines have been cut and several newspapers have stopped publishing. Official Myanmar state television reported on Thursday that nine people had been killed as a result of attempts to quell the protests, including a Japanese journalist. However, unconfirmed reports claimed that there may have been as many as 200 deaths during the crackdown.