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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Myanmar Activists Clash Before Vigil

YANGON, Myanmar -- Pro-government activists in Myanmar clashed Sunday with hundreds of supporters of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, hurling abuse and preventing them from marching to a prayer vigil for the detained Nobel laureate, witnesses said.

Holding photos of the 61-year-old leader, about 500 members of her National League for Democracy party shouted "Free Aung San Suu Kyi" as they staged a rally outside the party's headquarters in Myanmar's largest city, Yangon.

The supporters had intended to go on to a Buddhist pagoda in downtown Yangon to pray for Suu Kyi's release, but were blocked by about 100 supporters of the government, leading to a tense standoff, witnesses said.

The government supporters shouted abuse at the other side for about 15 minutes, and dragged away one National League for Democracy elected member, witnesses said, asking not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

"Please understand that we are not frightened by your threats ... we will proceed with peaceful gatherings," Min Ko Naing, an anti-government activist, told the government supporters. "We can pray for her from here," he said from outside the party's head office.

Police vans were parked nearby. The rally ended peacefully.

The government is believed to be holding about 1,200 political prisoners, most of them elected members of the National League for Democracy.

In a statement, the party asked for the "release immediately and unconditionally of all political prisoners of conscience including members of the parliament who are imprisoned for their beliefs."