NayPyiTaw: Myanmar security forces opened fire on protests against military rule on Wednesday killing nine people, witnesses and media reported, a day after neighbouring countries called for restraint and offered to help Myanmar resolve the crisis.
The security forces resorted to live fire with little warning in several towns and cities, witnesses said, as the junta appeared more determined than ever to stamp out protests against a Feb. 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
“They marched towards us and fired tear gas, marched again and used stun grenades,” Si Thu Maung, a protest leader in the central town of Myingyan, told Reuters.
“Then they didn’t spray us with water cannon, no warning to disperse, they just fired their guns.”
A spokesman for the ruling military council did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.
One teenaged boy was killed in Myingyan but the heaviest toll was in another central town, Monywa, where five people – four men and one woman – were killed, said Ko Thit Sar, editor of the Monywa Gazette.
“We’ve confirmed with family members and doctors, five people have been killed,” he told Reuters.
“At least 30 people are wounded, some still unconscious.”
Two people were killed in the country’s second-biggest city Mandalay, a witness and media reports said, and one person was killed when police opened fire in the main city of Yangon, a witness there said.
“The country is like the Tiananmen Square in most of its major cities,” the Archbishop of Yangon, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, said on Twitter, alluding to the suppression of student-led protests in Beijing in 1989.
The violence came a day after foreign ministers from Southeast Asian neighbours urged restraint but failed to unite behind a call for the release Suu Kyi and the restoration of democracy.
Security forces also detained about 300 protesters as they broke up protests in Yangon, the Myanmar Now news agency reported.