Myanmar security forces on Saturday opened fire to disperse people protesting against the country’s military coup. At least two people have been killed and wounded several others in the shoot out in Mandalay, the second city of Myanmar, according to emergency service workers and other witnesses.
The deaths on Saturday marked the bloodiest day in more than two weeks of large demonstrations against the February 1 military takeover, which deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Military authorities have responded with increasing force to the protests, deploying troops against peaceful rallies and firing tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets, with isolated incidents of live rounds being used.
In Mandalay, a shipyard raid turned violent on Saturday when security forces opened fire on demonstrators trying to stop the arrest of workers taking part in the growing anti-coup movement.
Demonstrators fling rocks
The clash started with the demonstrators flinging rocks, but authorities retaliated by opening fire, sending them fleeing in fear.
“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,” the worker told AFP news agency.
In addition to the deaths, which were also reported by local media, Ko Aung, leader of the Parahita Darhi volunteer emergency service agency, told Reuters news agency 20 people were wounded.
At least five people were injured by rubber bullets and had to be carried away in ambulances, according to an Associated Press news agency journalist who witnessed the violence.
Dozens of people arrested
Local media reported more than a dozen people were arrested after the clash.
“They beat and shot my husband and others,” a resident told AFP in tears. “He was standing on the side and watching the protest but the soldiers took him away.”
Later on Saturday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief condemned the violence and said the bloc will “take appropriate decisions”.
“I strongly condemn the violence against peaceful civilian protestors by the military. I urge the military and all Myanmar security forces to immediately stop violence against civilians,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative and vice president, tweeted.