Angry Buddhist monks in central Myanmar have released five of the 20 hostages they seized at their monastery on Thursday in a tense confrontation with the nation's military government, residents said.
The five hostages were released after being held for about five hours inside a teaching temple that is home to some 700 monks in the town of Pakokku, about 500 kilometres (310 miles) north of the country's commercial capital Yangon, residents said.
Some 15 people, mainly local and security officials, were still being held inside the monastery, they added.
Troops on Wednesday fired warning shots into the air to break up a crowd of about 300 monks who were protesting over a massive hike in fuel prices. At least three monks were injured when soldiers beat them with bamboo sticks, according to residents.
Local and security officials had come to the monastery to apologise for the violence, but the monks set four of their cars on fire and took about 20 people hostage, residents said.
The showdown at the monastery is the most serious confrontation with the military government since a rare series of anti-junta protests broke out more than two weeks ago.
Last Mod: 06 Eylül 2007, 16:55