Witnesses in Burma say at least 1,000 people joined Buddhist monks in a protest march through the streets of Rangoon.

Braving intense rain, at least 600 maroon-robed monks chanted prayers as they walked Friday from the Shwedagon Pagoda, the holiest shrine in Burma, in their fourth straight day of demonstrations.

As the monks marched into downtown Rangoon, their numbers swelled to more than 1,500.

Thousands of people joined a similar march in Rangoon Thursday.

Monks have taken the lead in demonstrations that began last month after the government doubled the price of fuel, making transportation difficult for many of Burma's impoverished citizens.  Authorities arrested at least 50 activists in those demonstrations.

The government acknowledged using tear gas and firing warning shots to break up a protest in Sittwe Tuesday.  Authorities refrained from intervening in marches Wednesday.

Monks are highly regarded in the devoutly Buddhist country and are credited with helping rally popular support for a 1988 protest against the government.  Security forces ended those demonstrations with deadly force.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.