Riot police face off with protesters taking part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon. Ye Aung Thu/AFP
Myanmar police fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters in Yangon on Saturday, according to an AFP reporter, after the country’s ambassador to the United Nations broke ranks to make an emotional plea for action against the military junta.
The country has been shaken by a wave of pro-democracy protests since a military coup toppled civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb.1.
It was unclear if any live rounds were used as police chased protesters and journalists from the Myaynigone junction.
There had been an hours-long standoff on Friday at the same spot.
Hundreds of ethnic Mon protesters gathered there on Saturday to commemorate Mon National Day, joined by other ethnic minority groups to protest against the coup.
The police arrived to clear the intersection, chasing protesters and journalists who ran to hide in nearby buildings.
Three journalists were among those detained on Saturday.
“What are the police doing? They are protecting a crazy dictator,” the protesters chanted.
They scattered into smaller residential streets and started building makeshift barricades out of barbed wire and tables to stop the police.
Local reporters broadcast the chaotic scenes live on Facebook, including the moments when the shots rang out.
“We will try to find another way to protest — of course, we are afraid of their crackdown,” said protester Moe Moe, 23, who used a pseudonym.
“We want to fight until we win.”
“They opened fire on us with live bullets. One was killed, he’s young, a teenage boy, shot in the head,” Moe Myint Hein, who was wounded in the leg, told Reuters by telephone.
Medics said 145 people were wounded in the latest clashes, taking the casualty toll to more than 530 in two days
Myanmar police fired water cannon at peaceful protesters in the country’s capital Naypyitaw for a second day, as the crowd refused to disperse, video posted on Facebook showed. Video in Bago, northeast of the commercial hub of Yangon also showed police firing
Activists demanding the restoration of the elected government of veteran democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi held more demonstrations in several towns and cities on Friday, with a crowd of thousands marching peacefully through the second city of Mandalay.
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