YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – After crushing the democracy uprising with guns, Myanmar’s junta stepped up its campaign to intimidate citizens Wednesday, sending troops to drag people from their homes in the middle of the night and letting others know they were marked for retribution.

“We have photographs! We are going to make arrests!” soldiers yelled from loudspeakers on military vehicles that patrolled the streets in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city

People living near the Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar’s most revered shrine and a flash point of unrest during the protests, reported that security forces swept through several dozen homes about 3 a.m., taking away many men and even some women for questioning.

A U.N. Development Program employee, Myint Nwe Moe, and her husband, brother-in-law and driver were among those detained, the U.N. agency said.

Dozens of Buddhist monks jammed Yangon’s main train station after being ordered to vacate their monasteries – centers of the anti-government demonstrations – and told to go back to their hometowns and villages.

It was not clear who ordered them out. Older abbots in charge of monasteries are seen as tied to the ruling military junta, while younger monks are more sympathetic to the democracy movement.

“People are terrified,” said Shari Villarosa, the acting U.S. ambassador in Myanmar. “People have been unhappy for a long time. Since the events of last week, there’s now the unhappiness combined with anger, and fear.”

In New York, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he would meet with the Security Council on Friday to discuss possible actions for addressing human rights abuses in Myanmar, calling the situation here a top international concern.

Ban said his special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, delivered “the strongest possible message” to Myanmar’s military leaders during a four-day visit to this Southeast Asian nation, but added that he could not call the trip “a success.” The junta has not commented on Gambari’s visit.

Gambari called on the regime to stop repression of peaceful protests, release detainees and move more credibly toward democratic reform, the U.N. spokesman’s office said.

Anti-junta demonstrations broke out in mid-August over a fuel price hike, then ballooned when monks took the lead last month. But the military crushed the protests a week ago with bullets, tear gas and clubs. The government said 10 people were killed, but dissident groups put the death toll at up to 200 and say 6,000 people were detained.

New video broadcast on CNN showed police and soldiers rounding up demonstrators and beating them before loading them on trucks. In one view, about six young men squat on the street, hands on their heads, cringing. One in a red shirt – the color adopted by the protest movement – is singled out for particular abuse.

The video also showed a man lying on the ground, his shirt bloodied, while another man looked around frantically as he tried to help him.

The footage appeared to have been made three or four days ago in downtown Yangon.

Villarosa said her staff had found up to 15 monasteries completely empty during visits in recent days. Others were barricaded by the military and declared off-limits to outsiders.

“There is a significantly reduced number of monks on the streets. Where are the monks? What has happened to them?” she said.

The atmosphere remained tense, but Yangon inched back toward a normal routine Wednesday. Traffic returned and street vendors braved the rain to offer flowers and food to people praying at the main pagoda. Some shops reopened.

While troops rounded up people in Yangon, some arrested protesters were let go elsewhere. The Democratic Voice of Burma, a dissident radio station based in Norway, said authorities freed 90 of some 400 monks who were detained in Kachin state’s capital, Myitkyina, during a raid on monasteries Sept. 25.

In Brussels, European Union nations agreed to expand sanctions on Myanmar’s military regime. Diplomats said new sanctions included an expanded visa ban for junta members, a wider ban on investment in Myanmar, and a ban on trade in the country’s metals, timber and gemstones.

But the new measures did not include a specific ban on European oil and gas companies from doing business in Myanmar, diplomats said.

The Southeast Asian nation, also known as Burma, has vast oil and gas deposits that are hungrily eyed by its neighbors – India, China and Thailand – as well as by multinational companies around the world. Myanmar is also known for its minerals, gems and timber.

Myanmar has been ruled by various military regimes since 1962. The current junta displaced another military dictatorship after turning soldiers loose against a 1988 democracy movement, killing at least 3,000 protesters.

The generals called elections in 1990 but refused to give up power when the party led by opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi won. She has spent nearly 12 of the last 18 years under house arrest.

Among those killed when troops opened fire on unarmed protesters in Yangon last week was Japanese television cameraman Kenji Nagai of the APF news agency. His body was flown to Tokyo on Wednesday, and Japan said it was reconsidering its aid to Myanmar.

Also on Wednesday, authorities released a prominent Myanmar reporter for the Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shimbun after six days in detention, but there were reports that other journalists remained missing.

Min Zaw had been taken from his home Friday by plainclothes security officers. His wife, Aye Aye Win, who is the Yangon correspondent for The Associated Press, said he was brought home in a pickup truck by a junta official.

She said Min Zaw, 56, was questioned about the visit last month of Tokyo Shimbun’s Thailand bureau chief, Koji Hirata, to Yangon to cover the-democracy demonstrations. “He is really perplexed why he was held so long,” she said.

Reporters Without Borders, a media watchdog, has said several correspondents for foreign news media, including those of Reuters and Agence France-Presse, were physically attacked or prevented from working in the past month.

AP-ES-10-03-07 1743EDT


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