Myanmar has begun releasing dozens of political prisoners as part of a wider amnesty. Around 70 political prisoners were reported to have been released by noon Wednesday.

The released prisoners include monks, opposition politicians and ethnic minority activists, news agencies reported.

Maj.-Gen. Hso Ten, who was sentenced to 105 years in prison on sedition charges, was among those released. Some members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party were also released, said the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The authoritarian regime is expected to release more than 6,300 prisoners under the mass amnesty.

The release of the political prisoners could prompt Western nations to consider easing the economic sanctions which they imposed on Myanmar in the 1990s. The sanctions were imposed in response to the regime's human rights violations.