Five people were killed and at least 15 arrested after Myanmar security forces in a car rammed into an anti-coup protest in Yangon on Sunday, according to local media.
Witnesses on the scene said dozens had been injured. Photos and videos on social media show a vehicle that had crashed through the protesters and bodies lying on the road.
Another protest was held in Yangon later in the day despite the violence. Demonstrations against the military have continued despite the killing of more than 1,300 people since the 1 February coup. The scattered protests tend to involve small groups voicing opposition to the overthrow of the elected government led by the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and the return of military rule.
The opposition’s shadow government said it was heartbroken at the latest deaths. “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.
A “flash mob” protest had been rammed minutes after it started, witnesses said.
“I got hit and fell down in front of a truck,” one protester said by phone. “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 then followed the scattered protesters arresting and beating them. Some received head wounds and were knocked unconscious, witnesses said.
A spokesman for the military junta did not answer calls for comment on Sunday, but it has previously said that protesters killed had instigated the violence.
The military has also said it staged the coup because a November election won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party was rigged, a claim the electoral commission has dismissed.
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 UN estimates.
Aun San Suu Kyi, 76, faces a dozen cases against her including incitement and violations of Covid-19 protocols. She has rejected all of the charges against her.
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