Myanmar police shot dead two anti-coup protesters and injured at least 20 others, as security forces take a more hard line response on the popular revolt against the military takeover, the worst violence yet in more than two weeks of demonstrations.
Relatives of one of those killed told Reuters news agency he was a carpenter, aged 36, who was shot in the chest.
The other fatality – reports say a boy under 18 – was shot in the head.
Several other serious injuries were also reported. The shootings occurred near Mandalay’s shipyard, where tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and slingshots were used on protesters.
Police and soldiers descended on the area after dock workers joined the national civil disobedience movement, refusing to work until the military junta that seized power in a February 01 coup saw the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government.
Protesters are demanding that she be released, along with other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party. She is under house arrest, accused of possessing illegal walkie-talkies and violating the country’s Natural Disaster Law.
The military allege the NLD’s landslide election win last year was fraudulent but have not provided proof.
Reports say some protesters threw projectiles at police, who responded with live fire and tear gas while images show protesters holding up what appear to be bullet cartridges.
The EU said it strongly condemned the violence and the US embassy in Myanmar said it was “deeply troubled”.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “The shooting of peaceful protesters in Myanmar is beyond the pale.
“We will consider further action, with our international partners, against those crushing democracy and choking dissent.”
Singapore, a big investor in Myanmar, warned of “serious adverse consequences for Myanmar and the region” if the situation continued to escalate.
On Friday a young woman became the first confirmed death from the protests.
Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing was shot in the head on Feb. 09 at a rally in the capital Nay Pyi Taw. Rights groups said her injuries were consistent with the use of live ammunition. Police denied using lethal force.
The military authorities say a policeman has been killed since the protests began after the Feb. 01 coup.
Further demonstrations took place on Saturday in several cities, including Yangon, where residents banged pots and a candle-light vigil was held outside the US embassy. The security forces mostly left the protesters alone. (Source: BBC)