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Protesters defiant amid envoy's visit

  • Story Highlights
  • U.N. envoy to Myanmar arrives in Yangon to meet with senior officials
  • Protesters playing a "terrible game of cat and mouse" with military
  • White House, Russian Foreign Ministry back U.N. peace mission
  • Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman urges restraint
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(CNN) -- United Nations envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari arrived Saturday for talks with senior government officials aimed at finding a peaceful resolution to ongoing clashes between the military's ruling junta and pro-democracy activists, a Western diplomat told CNN.

Shari Villarosa, charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Yangon, told CNN by phone that Gambari -- who will soon arrive in the capital of Naypyidaw -- hopes to speak to Senior General Than Shwe "to tell him directly about the international outrage over what has happened and will urge him to talk with various people and try to resolve the problems peacefully."

"He brings the good offices of the United Nations, the secretary-general's blessing, and he can offer suggestions on ways forward that may not have crossed the general's mind," Villarosa added.

His arrival comes on the heels of a week filled with tension and violence. An outpouring of citizen protesters has been met with increasing force at the hands of government security guards acting to crush demonstrations.

Although streets that previously saw hundreds of thousands of demonstrators remained mainly quiet Saturday, there were pockets of protests held in Yangon, the country's biggest city. Video Watch how Myanmar's army met defiant protesters »

A source in Myanmar told CNN that students and other civilians "are playing a terrible game of cat and mouse" with security forces.

"The boldest 100 stand about three blocks away from the line of soldiers and shout slogans and taunts at them," the source said.

"A block behind the bold crowd is another large group of more than 100 in the street waiting to see what happens. All along the sidewalks, people are milling, watching and waiting. People hang out of the storefronts and sit out on their patios watching," the source added.

In one area of the city, police were seen rounding up and arresting anti-government activists, a report posted on www.mizzima.com said. Witnesses also reported seeing citizens marching in the streets, clapping and shouting "people's desires must be filled," according to the report, which CNN cannot independently confirm. Click here to see www.mizzima.com

On Friday, the Bush administration voiced support of Gambari's visit.

"We have called on Burma (Myanmar's former name) to allow him to meet with anyone he wishes to meet ... including Aung San Suu Kyi," White House press secretary Dana Perino said.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate who is leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, has been under house arrest from 1989 to 1995, from 2000 to 2002, and from May 2003 to now.

Gambari has met with Suu Kyi in previous visits, but it was unknown whether he would be allowed to meet with her this time.

Earlier in the week, Russia's Foreign Ministry also voiced support for Gambari, saying: "We are seriously concerned about the continuing deterioration of the domestic political situation in Myanmar. The violent crackdown by the government of mass demonstrations in a number of towns was accompanied by bloodshed and has led to considerable human casualties."

On Thursday, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations strongly urged Myanmar to refrain from violence and to address the protesters' grievances.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu also urged restraint.

On Friday, U.S. Charge d'Affaires Shari Villarosa told CNN by phone "the military is out there with guns and trucks and barricades all over the city and the people are just marching."

"The military have all the weapons and the people have their anger," she said. "How long they will be willing to go into the streets and be shot down, I don't know."

As the day continued, news of the upheaval slowed to a trickle after the country's Internet link shut down. Many critics blamed the government.

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The slowed pace of information followed a day heavy with blog and witness reports of soldiers firing into crowds of anti-government demonstrators and beating Buddhist monks.

As many as 10 people -- including a Japanese journalist -- were shot by military forces Thursday, according to various opposition blog sites and media reports, which CNN could not independently confirm. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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