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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Myanmar Police Gas Marching Monks

YANGON, Myanmar -- Authorities in military-ruled Myanmar fired tear gas Tuesday to break up a protest of around 1,000 Buddhist monks and civilian demonstrators in the northwestern city of Sittwe, a witness said.

Three or four monks were arrested as the crowd scattered and were hit and slapped, the witness said.

The march, one of several in response to a call for a nationwide religious boycott of the country's ruling military, started with 500 Buddhist monks but grew quickly as ordinary men and women -- some of them Muslims -- joined in.

In Yangon, authorities closed the famed Shwedagon Pagoda, the Southeast Asian nation's holiest shrine, minutes before hundreds of monks arrived for the start of a campaign to refuse alms from anyone connected to the regime.

"We could not hold the formal ceremony to impose the religious boycott because we could not enter the Shwedagon compound," a monk said.