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AFP
March 3, 2021

Myanmar security forces fire on anti-coup protesters

World

AFP
March 3, 2021

YANGON: Myanmar security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at protesters again on Tuesday, leaving at least three people critically injured as regional powers rebuked the junta over its deadly crackdown.

The country has seen weeks of mass protests demanding the military release civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in detention since the February 1 coup. Soldiers and police have steadily stepped up their use of force, deploying tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets and, increasingly, live rounds.

Sunday was the bloodiest day since the military takeover, with the United Nations saying at least 18 protesters were killed across the country. AFP independently confirmed 11 deaths. Another rally turned violent on Tuesday, in the northwestern town of Kale where security forces opened fire on protesters, according to medics who witnessed events and treated those wounded.

"About 20 people were injured in a morning crackdown by police and soldiers in Kale," said a rescue worker, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions. "Three... were hit by live rounds and are in a critical condition," he said.

Police had initially deployed tear gas and rubber bullets before doubling back with live rounds, he added. A doctor who treated the patients in a local hospital confirmed the number of people in a critical condition.

"One was hit in his thigh and he’s now under operation. Another one got hit in the abdomen and he requires blood transfusions... Another one got hit in the chest," he told AFP. The bloodshed came on the same day as the funeral was held in the commercial capital of Yangon for a 23-year-old student who died Sunday.

The mourners sang a revolutionary song as the coffin carrying Nyi Nyi Aung Htet Naing moved through a sea of thousands to an altar. Some climbed trees to catch a glimpse of the procession.

"No mercy, just bullies -- dead bodies are here and there," the mourners sang in unison as they flashed a three-finger salute. "Oh, the brave heroes who died for democracy." Protests also continued in several neighbourhoods of Yangon on Tuesday, with demonstrators wearing hard hats and wielding improvised home-made shields.

In San Chaung township -- which saw crackdowns in recent days -- hundreds of police came out in force. "They used tear gas and were shooting as well," said one resident. About 15 minutes away near the popular shopping area Yuzana Plaza, local media live-streamed protesters chanting as what appeared to be smoke from tear gas whizzed their way.

"We threw wet blankets to the protesters for them to cover the canisters to prevent the tear gas (from spreading)," said one resident living by the plaza, who added that she saw some demonstrators being arrested.