Police in Myanmar opened fire on protesters in several cities on Wednesday with live rounds, witnesses and local media reported, killing at least nine people and leaving many others wounded.
The nine protesters were shot dead during separate agitations in different cities, including Mandalay, Yangon, Myingyan and Monywa. The videos and pictures on social media showed soldiers threatening and brutally beating people working for medical aid after forcing them out of the ambulance.
The soldiers have been using tear gas, stun guns grenades and rubber bullets as well to disperse the protesters but they have been defying the military and returning to the streets every day to protest against the 1 February military coup. At least 18 protesters were killed by security personnel on Sunday, in some of the worst violence in the country following the takeover.
Student activist Moe Myint Hein, 25, who was wounded in the leg, said “they opened fire on us with live bullets. One was killed, he’s young, a teenage boy, shot in the head,” reported Reuters news agency.
This comes even as the foreign ministers from Southeast Asian neighbours, who met via video conference on Tuesday, failed to solve the crisis.
Some of the neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore have been demanding that Myanmar’s military release Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders who were detained after the coup and exercise restrain against the use of lethal force against unarmed protesters.
Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong called the use of lethal force by Myanmar’s military against unarmed protesters “disastrous” and unacceptable.
Since 1 February, protests have continued across Myanmar despite the use of lethal force by security forces. On 28 February, according to reports, at least 18 people were killed while 30 were injured.
In addition, hundreds of protesters have also been arrested. Salai Lian, an activist in Chin State, said: “We’re aiming to show that no one in this country wants dictatorship.”
Si Thu Maung, who is a protest leader in Myingyan town, said the soldiers marched towards them and fired tear gas and stun grenades without any warning.
“Then they didn’t spray us with water cannon, no warning to disperse, they just fired their guns,” he said.
While the Archbishop of Yangon, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo tweeted: “Myanmar has already the Concentration Camp in Arakan State. Today, the country is like the Tiananmen Square in most of its major cities.”
Myanmar’s military replaced the democratically-elected government alleging irregularities in November 2020 where Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won 396 out of the 476 available seats compared to the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party that won only 33 seats.
On Monday, Ms Suu Kyi was seen in public for the first time since the coup as she was summoned to attend a court hearing in the capital Naypyidaw via video conferencing where two more charges were added against her.
Additional reporting by agencies