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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Myanmar Arrests 13 Dissidents

YANGON, Myanmar -- Myanmar's junta arrested 13 top dissidents and deployed gangs of spade-wielding supporters on the streets of Yangon on Wednesday to halt protests against soaring fuel prices and falling living standards.

Armed police also took up positions across the country's biggest city alongside truckloads of men from the army's feared Union Solidarity and Development Association. Many were carrying brooms and shovels, pretending to be road sweepers.

Despite the clampdown and the overnight arrest of the prominent activists, 100 people staged an hour-long march before being dispersed. Five women and a man were arrested, although there was no violence, witnesses said.

"Onlookers applauded but failed to join the march," one said.

In a rare announcement in all state-run newspapers, the junta said the 13 had been arrested for "agitation to cause civil unrest" and "undermining peace and security of the state," charges that could put them in jail for up to 20 years.

Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, Min Zeya, Ko Jimmy, Ko Pyone Cho, Arnt Bwe Kyaw and Ko Mya Aye -- all leaders of a 1988 student-led uprising crushed by the military with heavy loss of life -- were among those named.

"Military intelligence and government intelligence seized their houses and searched their houses," said another dissident, Htay Kywe.