Security forces in Burma have again used gunfire to disperse demonstrators in the main city, Rangoon, as hundreds, perhaps thousands defy the security forces of the ruling junta. Residents say the government has also cut off Internet access. VOA's Luis Ramirez has more from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Television footage showed hundreds, maybe thousands of people getting beaten and tear-gassed by security forces in various parts of Rangoon.
This protester told VOA by telephone from Rangoon that one of the rallies happened at the Sule Pagoda Friday, which has been a focal point of the demonstrations. She said police and soldiers used live ammunition and batons against the demonstrators.
"There were a few hundred people singing the national anthem and then the soldiers shoot at them. Then, about 40 were taken away," she said.
Witnesses said there were fewer Buddhist monks among the protesters than in recent days. Security forces have been raiding monasteries and rounding up hundreds of monks who the government accuses of instigating the protests.
With the Burmese military government barring the entry of foreign journalists, much of the news, photos and videos that have come out of Burma since the protests began have been sent through the Internet. In a further attempt to clamp down, residents say authorities cut off Internet access on Friday.
The protester who spoke to VOA Friday said lines were cut at midday.
"My internet is down. Even the broadband is down," she said. "I just talked to a person who can use broadband. Most of the Internet is down now in Yangon."
The U.N. secretary-general's special envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, was in Singapore Friday. He was to pick up a visa from the Burmese embassy there.