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Burma frees political prisoners

Burma's president has pardoned 56 political prisoners, moving forward with his pledge to release all those jailed for opposing the government by the end of the year.

President Thein Sein ordered their release just ahead of a forum in Brunei to be attended by leaders from across Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Burma is expected to face questions about ongoing sectarian violence.

It has become a pattern for prisoner amnesties in Burma to coincide with high-profile international meetings as a way of highlighting the nominally civilian government's reforms since taking office after years of absolute military rule.

A member of the government's political prisoner scrutiny committee, Ye Aung, said those released today included several ethnic minorities. He said about 130 political prisoners are still believed to be in jail.

AP

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