Two killed as Myanmar police open fire on protesters

Published February 21, 2021
Police officers stand in front of people who protest against the military coup, in Mandalay, Myanmar on Saturday. — Reuters
Police officers stand in front of people who protest against the military coup, in Mandalay, Myanmar on Saturday. — Reuters

YANGON: Two people were killed in Myanmar’s second largest city as security forces fired live rounds on protestors, emergency workers and doctors said on Saturday — the latest show of force from a junta regime that has faced two straight weeks of anti-coup demonstrations.

Much of the country has been in uproar since the military deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1, with large street demonstrations seen in major cities and isolated villages alike.

Authorities have responded with increasing force, deploying troops against peaceful rallies and firing tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets, with isolated incidents of live rounds being used.

In Mandalay on Saturday, a shipyard raid turned violent after protesters trying to stop the arrest of anti-coup marine staff started flinging rocks.

Authorities retaliated by opening fire — sending demonstrators fleeing in fear.

In a video livestreamed on Facebook by a resident hiding nearby, continuous gunfire could be heard.

“Two people were killed,” said Hlaing Min Oo, the chief of a Mandalay-based volunteer emergency rescue team, adding that one of the victims, who was shot in the head, was a teenager.

The death toll was confirmed by another emergency worker on the scene, who declined to be named for fear of repercussions. “One under-18 boy got shot in his head,” he said.

Graphic video circulated on Facebook of the boy, splayed on the ground and bleeding from his head as a bystander placed a hand on his chest to feel for a heartbeat.

“About 30 others were injured — half of the injured people were shot with live rounds,” Hlaing Min Oo said, adding the rest had rubber bullet and slingshot wounds.

The use of live rounds was also confirmed by doctors and other aides working on the ground. Local media reported more than a dozen people were arrested after the clash.

“They beat and shot my husband and others,” a resident said in tears.

“He was standing on the side and watching the protest but the soldiers took him away.” Police could not be reached for comment.

The clash in Mandalay comes as the country mourns the death of a 20-year-old anti-coup protester who was shot in the head last week in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw.

On Saturday, thousands gathered at the main junctions of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city — though the crowds appeared smaller than in recent days.

“I feel that the bullet that hit Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing’s head has also hit our heads,” said protester Win Zaw, 46.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2021


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