At least five people were killed and 15 were arrested after Myanmar security forces rammed into an anti-coup protest in a military vehicle in Yangon on Sunday, local news portal Myanmar Now reported.
Photos and videos on social media show a vehicle that crashed through the protesters and bodies lying on the road.
Witnesses said this latest “flash mob” protest was rammed minutes after it started.
Anti-military protests are continuing despite the killing of more than 1,300 people since the Feb. 01 coup. The scattered protests are often small groups voicing opposition to the overthrow of an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and the return of military rule.
The opposition’s shadow government said that it was heartbroken to see peaceful protesters being attacked and shot to death.
“We will strongly respond to the terrorist military who brutally, inhumanly killed the unarmed peaceful protesters,” the National Unity Government’s defence ministry said in a statement on social media after Sunday’s attack.
Another protest was held in Yangon in the afternoon despite the morning violence.
A protester who asked not to be identified for security reasons told Reuters by phone: “I got hit and fell down in front of a truck. A soldier beat me with his rifle, but I defended and pushed him back. Then he immediately shot at me as I ran away in a zig-zag pattern. Fortunately, I escaped.”
A car occupied by soldiers hit the crowd from the back, two witnesses said, and followed the scattered protesters, arresting and beating them. Some were seriously injured with head wounds and were left unconscious, according to the witnesses.
A spokesman for the ruling junta did not answer calls seeking comment on Sunday.
The military has said that protesters who have been killed instigated the violence.
The ruling junta says it staged the coup because last November’s election won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party was rigged. The election commission has dismissed the assertion.
Wars with ethnic minority insurgents in remote frontier regions in the north and east have intensified significantly since the coup, displacing tens of thousands of civilians, according to United Nations estimates.
Aung San Suu Kyi, 76, faces a dozen cases against her including incitement and violations of Covid-19 protocols. (Source: CNA)