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Burmese Government Urges Monks to Refrain from Anti-Junta Protests

A state-run newspaper in Burma is urging Buddhist monks to stay away from anti-government protests that have erupted over an increase in fuel prices.

A newspaper column purportedly written by a senior Buddhist monk blames anti-government forces for encouraging monks to demonstrate.

Saturday's article is the latest attempt by the military-ruled government to discourage monks from joining public rallies. In the past week, military rulers also have made highly publicized donations to Buddhist monasteries.

Protests began in Rangoon last month after the government doubled fuel prices, saying the increase was necessary because of rising world oil prices.

The unrest has spread throughout the country since then. Last week, hundreds of monks held local officials hostage to protest their forceful suppression of a demonstration the day before.

Burmese opposition politicians say the government has cut off phone service to about 50 politicians and activists in an apparent effort to stop the protests.

Activists say authorities have arrested at least 100 demonstrators. The government says it is holding 50 people.