18 dead on bloodiest day of Myanmar crackdown

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Naypyitaw

Myanmar police fired on protesters on Sunday in the bloodiest day amids weeks of demonstrations against a military coup. Atleast 18 people were killed and several wounded, political and medical sources, residents and media reported.

Police were out in force early and opened fire in different parts of the biggest city of Yangon after stun grenades, tear gas and shots in the air failed to break up crowds. Soldiers also reinforced police.

Several wounded people were hauled away by fellow protesters, leaving bloody smears on pavements, media images showed.

One man died after being brought to a hospital with a bullet in the chest, said a doctor who asked not to be identified. “Myanmar is like a battlefield,” the Buddhist-majority nation’s first Catholic cardinal, Charles Maung Bo, said on Twitter.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the army seized power and detained elected government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership on Feb. 1, alleging fraud in a November election her party won in a landslide.

The coup, which brought a halt to tentative steps towards democracy after nearly 50 years of military rule, has drawn hundreds of thousands onto the streets and the condemnation of Western countries.

A UN official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the office had confirmed at least five people dead in Yangon.

Police also opened fire in Dawei in the south, killing three and wounding several, politician Kyaw Min Htike told Reuters from the town.

The Myanmar Now media outlet reported two people had been killed in a protest in the second city of Mandalay. Security forces fired again later in the day and one woman was killed, Mandalay resident Sai Tun told Reuters.

“The medical team checked her and confirmed she didn’t make it. She was shot in the head,” Sai Tun said. Police and the spokesman for the ruling military council did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Police broke up protests in other towns, including Lashio in the northeast, Myeik in the deep south and Hpa-An in the east, residents and media said.—-Reuters