Security forces fatally shot people in at least three cities and detained hundreds, while a reporter was beaten and held, and another shot by a rubber bullet
Burmese security forces yesterday shot dead at least six protesters in the bloodiest action so far to smother opposition to the military coup four weeks ago.
The junta is battling to contain a massive street movement demanding it yield power and release ousted Burmese State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained on Feb. 1 along with top political allies.
Yesterday brought a significant escalation in force, with fatal shootings of protesters in at least three cities, as police and soldiers attempted to bring the civil disobedience campaign to heel.
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE
Three men were killed and at least 20 others injured when security forces moved on a rally in the southern coastal city of Dawei.
Rescue worker Pyae Zaw Hein said the trio were “shot dead with live rounds,” while the injured were hit by rubber bullets.
“More wounded people keep coming in,” he told reporters.
Two teenagers were gunned down in Bago, a two-hour drive north of the commercial capital, Yangon.
Ambulance driver Than Lwin Oo told reporters that he had sent the bodies of the 18-year-olds to the mortuary at Bago’s main hospital.
Officers in Yangon began dispersing small crowds minutes before the scheduled beginning of the day’s protest, with a 23-year-old man shot dead in the city’s east.
“His wife is heartbroken,” Win Ko, a social worker who visited the man’s widow, told reporters. “She’s three months pregnant.”
Elsewhere, protesters took up positions behind barricades and wielded homemade shields to defend themselves against the onslaught, with police using tear gas to clear some rallies.
Hundreds of people had been arrested by evening and transported to the Yangon’s notorious Insein Prison, where many of Myanmar’s leading democracy campaigners have served long jail terms under previous dictatorships.
One man in Mandalay was taken to hospital in critical condition after a projectile pierced his helmet and lodged into his brain.
A doctor in the city, Myanmar’s second-largest, said it was not known whether the 41-year-old had been struck by a live round or a rubber bullet.
At least one journalist documenting the assaults by security forces was beaten and detained further north in Myitkyina, a city at the headwaters of the Irrawaddy River, local media reported.
Another reporter was shot with rubber bullets while covering a protest in the central city of Pyay, their employer said.
Since the military takeover, Myanmar has been roiled by giant demonstrations and a civil disobedience campaign encouraging civil servants to walk off the job.
State media on Saturday reported that the junta had sacked the country’s UN envoy, who gave an impassioned plea for help on behalf of Myanmar’s ousted civilian government.
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