Yangon: Myanmar security forces violently spread anti-coup rallies across the country on Sunday. There are reports that at least three protesters were killed in the crackdown.
The junta has ratcheted up its use of force over the weekend against the massive street movement demanding it yield power and release ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Police and soldiers had already fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon on demonstrations in recent weeks in an effort to bring the civil disobedience campaign to heel, with live rounds used in some isolated cases.
On Sunday morning, a large number of people mobilized to disperse construction crowds in some parts of the country. These crowds gathered in response to online calls for protesters to flood the streets again.
According to volunteer medical doctors and local media reports, three people were killed and at least 20 injured when security forces moved at the rally in the southern coastal center of the rally.
Pyae Zaw Hein, a rescue worker, told AFP the trio had been “shot dead with live rounds”, while the injured had been hit by rubber bullets.
“There could be many more casualties as well because more wounded people keep coming in,” he added.
Local media outlet Dawei Watch confirmed that three had died in the incident.
Officers in the commercial hub Yangon began dispersing one crowd in the downtown area minutes before the slated beginning of the day’s protest, but it was unclear whether they used live rounds.
“Police started shooting just as we arrived,” said Amy Kyaw, a 29-year-old primary school teacher in a downtown Yangon neighbourhood.
“They didn’t say a word of warning. Some got injured and some teachers are still hiding in neighbours’ houses.”
Live broadcasts on social media showed that security forces used tear gas to clean up some people in Yangon and water cannons north of Mandalay, the country’s cultural capital.