The military rulers in Myanmar, formerly Burma, placed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi under de facto house arrest in the capital Thursday, Western diplomats said.
The diplomats here, who had been in contact with Myanmar, said troops were posted around her compound in a suburb north of Yangon (formerly Rangoon) in the morning, stopping her from leaving and turning away visitors.
The United States urged the Myanmar government Thursday to release political opposition leaders and expressed deep disappointment over what it called the latest crackdown on free expression.
"The United States government is deeply disturbed by this latest in a series of actions . . . which casts serious doubts on the Burmese government's repeated promises to hold free and fair elections by May of 1990," State Department deputy spokesman Richard Boucher said.
The Myanmar regime, which has ruled since seizing power in September, deployed thousands of troops in the capital Wednesday to prevent a march planned by Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy and 103 allied parties.
Telephone lines from Bangkok to Yangon were cut during the day, and the diplomats heard of the incident through their own sources.
They said the 44-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi, who has defied military authorities with a series of public rallies to back her campaign for democracy, attempted to leave the compound and offered herself for arrest.
They said she was forced back inside and told she could not leave.
Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday called off plans by groups opposing the martial law rulers to stage alternative ceremonies to mark Martyrs' Day, the anniversary of the 1947 killing of her father, independence hero Aung San.
Aung San Suu Kyi emerged as the leader of the opposition after a popular uprising across the country last year initiated by students.