Mandalay: The Myanmar police opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in the city of Mandalay on Saturday, killing two people and wounding dozens, according to witnesses.
The New York Times citing witnesses reported that the shootings occurred as the authorities were trying to force workers back to their jobs at a local shipyard. They were among hundreds of thousands of workers across Myanmar who have walked off their jobs to protest the military's February 1 coup and its ouster of elected civilian leaders.
The Bangkok Post citing local media reported that at least five people were injured by rubber bullets, a photographer at the scene reported, while emergency medical staff treating the injured confirmed at least six others were shot with live rounds.
The violence also comes as the first casualty of the ongoing pro-democracy protests was reported in Naypyitaw.
Over 1,000 demonstrators gathered at the shipyard to block the police, leading to a tense standoff that lasted Saturday afternoon. The authorities used water cannons, rubber bullets, tear gas, slingshots and ultimately live ammunition to break up the crowd, witnesses said.
A volunteer with a local medical charity, Ko Kyaw Lin, said he had been helping rescue some of the wounded in Mandalay but could not get close enough to some of them because the police and soldiers were shooting at people in the crowd.
"When we picked up the patients on the street, they had been shot by a sniper," he said as quoted by NYT. "They shot everyone no matter who they were." A video was taken at the scene showed one man lying in a pool of blood, apparently dead from a gunshot wound to the head.
The condemnation of the violence has been fierce, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has held talks with allied countries in recent days to press for a firm international response.
"We condemn any violence against the people of Burma and reiterate our calls on the Burmese military to refrain from violence against peaceful protesters... the United States will continue to lead the diplomatic effort to galvanize the international community into collective action against those responsible for this coup," spokesman Ned Price said in a press briefing on Friday.
On February 1, Myanmar's military overthrew the government and declared a year-long state of emergency hours before the newly-elected parliament was due to convene. State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, along with other top officials accused of election fraud, have been placed under house arrest. The coup triggered mass protests across the country.
According to Sputnik, at least 150 people have suffered injuries during intense demonstrations across the country.