DATE=10/1/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=THAILAND / BURMA EMBASSY (L) NUMBER=2-254547 BYLINE=RON CORBEN DATELINE=BANGKOK CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A dozen armed attackers, calling themselves the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors, attacked Burma's Embassy in Bangkok late Friday morning and are holding up to 20 diplomats and their families. Ron Corben reports from Bangkok there is a tense standoff at the Embassy compound. TEXT: In a daring daylight raid, the attackers stormed the embassy compound. In a faxed statement sent to a local television station, they demanded Burma's military government free all political prisoners. The statement said none of the hostages had been harmed. Police had said one person - of unknown nationality - was believed to have been killed, but details of casualties and injuries are unclear. Initial reports said the hostages included the Burmese Ambassador, but the military goverment's spokesman in Rangoon, says the senior diplomat was not present at the time of the attack. Police say the raid occurred just before noon local time, and more than half a dozen shots rang out from within the walled compound, located in Bangkok's financial and diplomatic district. Some 200 Thai police and security forces have surrounded the compound, an older style timber structure, with diplomatic residential apartments built at the back of the Embassy. More recently built office towers and apartments overlook the Embassy and its garden, from which Thai special branch, and security officials have taken up positions. The Burmese national flag has been lowered and replaced by the attackers with one emblazoned with a red fighting peacock, considered a symbol of the anti-military movement in Burma. Police say the hostage takers were carrying automatic rifles and some 20 hand grenades when the attack began. A key student group in Thailand, the All Burma Students Democratic Front or A-B-S-D-F - has denied any involvement in the siege. Observers at the scene said the group of attackers included both men and women, who had come from a special student refugee camp at Ratchburi, outside Bangkok, and from Mae Sot, a Thai border town and home for many Burmese refugees. /// Rest Opt /// The incident is a violent turn from regular demonstrations by pro-democracy activists outside the Embassy that call for change in Burma. A bid by student activists in Thailand and inside Burma to calls for a mass uprising and demonstrations against the military government in Burma in recent months have apparently failed to trigger widespread support in the country. NEB/RC/FC 01-Oct-1999 06:49 AM LOC (01-Oct-1999 1049 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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