Myanmar security forces fire on protesters

About 20 injured in a crackdown by police and soldiers in Kale; protests in other parts continue

March 02, 2021 09:52 pm | Updated 09:52 pm IST - Yangon

Holding on:  Protesters face tear gas fired by police during a demonstration against the military coup in Kale.

Holding on: Protesters face tear gas fired by police during a demonstration against the military coup in Kale.

Myanmar security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at protesters again on Tuesday, leaving at least three people critically injured as regional powers rebuked the junta over its deadly crackdown.

The country has seen weeks of mass protests demanding the military release civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in detention since the February 1 coup.

Soldiers and police have steadily stepped up their use of force, deploying tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets and, increasingly, live rounds.

Sunday was the bloodiest day since the military takeover, with the United Nations saying at least 18 protesters were killed across the country. AFP independently confirmed 11 deaths.

Another rally turned violent on Tuesday, in the northwestern town of Kale where security forces opened fire on protesters, according to medics who witnessed events and treated those wounded.

“About 20 people were injured in a crackdown by police and soldiers in Kale,” said a rescue worker.

A doctor who treated the patients in a local hospital confirmed the number of people in a critical condition.

“One was hit in his thigh and he’s now under operation. Another one got hit in the abdomen and he requires blood transfusions... Another one got hit in the chest,” he told AFP.

The bloodshed came on the same day as the funeral was held in the commercial capital of Yangon for a 23-year-old student who died Sunday.

The mourners sang a revolutionary song as the coffin carrying Nyi Nyi Aung Htet Naing moved through a sea of thousands to an altar. Some climbed trees to catch a glimpse of the procession.

“No mercy, just bullies — dead bodies are here and there,” the mourners sang in unison as they flashed a three-finger salute. “Oh, the brave heroes who died for democracy.”

Protests also continued in Yangon on Tuesday, with demonstrators wearing hard hats and wielding improvised home-made shields.

In San Chaung township hundreds of police came out in full force. “They used tear gas and were shooting as well,” said one resident.

More than 1,200 people have been arrested, charged and sentenced since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group, of which about 900 are still behind bars.

International rebuke

Ahead of the talks, some regional powers broke with diplomatic traditions and issued unusually harsh rebukes to Myanmar’s military.

“To use lethal force against civilians and unarmed demonstrators, I think it is just not acceptable,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the BBC.

After the meeting Indonesia’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi expressed concern over rising violence and deaths as well as frustration over a lack of cooperation from the Myanmar regime.

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