At least 10 people were killed when Myanmar security forces fired on pro-democracy protesters Wednesday as multiple rallies across the country descended into chaos.
Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1 when the military launched a coup and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, ending the nation’s decade-long experiment with democracy and sparking daily mass protests.
International pressure is mounting — Western powers have repeatedly hit the generals with sanctions — and Britain has called for a United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday.
But the junta has ignored the global condemnation, responding to the uprising with escalating strength, and security services used lethal force on demonstrators again on Wednesday.
The military has also hit half a dozen detained journalists with criminal charges that could see them spend up to three years in jail if convicted.
Three cities in central Myanmar saw bloody crackdowns on protesters by security forces on Wednesday, with Monywa in the Sagaing region registering the highest number of deaths with at least seven.
“What we can confirm is seven people have died,” said an emergency doctor, who declined to provide his name.
Multiple medics also said they saw two other individuals being dragged away by security forces, though they could not get close enough to confirm if they had died.
In neighbouring Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city, two demonstrators were killed, a doctor confirmed to AFP, adding that one of the victims was 19 years old and was shot in the head.
And a protest in Myingyan turned deadly when security forces deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds against protesters carrying red home-made shields emblazoned with the three-finger salute — a symbol of resistance for the anti-coup movement.
Several medics confirmed a young man was gunned down.
“Zin Ko Ko Zaw, a 20-year-old, was shot dead on the spot,” a rescue team member told AFP, adding that his team had treated 17 people from the protest.