Myanmar police fired on protesters on Sunday in the bloodiest day of weeks of demonstrations against a military coup and at least 11 people were killed and several wounded, political and medical sources, residents and media said.
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.
A woman died of a suspected heart attack after police swooped to break up a Yangon teachers’ protest with stun grenades, her daughter and a colleague said.
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.
Police and the spokesman for the ruling military council did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.
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.
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On Sunday, hundreds of protesters refused to leave the streets by early afternoon in Yangon. Many set up barricades while others chanted slogans and sang protest songs.
“If they push us, we’ll rise. If they attack us, we’ll defend. We’ll never kneel down to the military boots,” said Nyan Win Shein from one Yangon protest.
Police dispersed the teachers’ protest with stun grenades and one of them, Tin New Yee, later died. The cause of death might have been a heart attack, her daughter and another teacher told Reuters.
Police also hurled stun grenades outside a medical school in another part of the city, sending send doctors and students in white lab coats scattering.
A group called the Whitecoat Alliance of medics said more than 50 medical staff had been arrested.
State-run MRTV television said more than 470 people had been arrested on Saturday after police launched the nationwide crackdown. It was not clear how many were detained on Sunday.
The police action came after state television announced that Myanmar’s U.N. envoy had been fired for betraying the country after he urged the United Nations to use “any means necessary” to reverse the coup.
The ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, had been fired, state media reported, though he remained defiant.
“I decided to fight back as long as I can,” he told Reuters in New York.
Human rights organizations and foreign governments have expressed their concern about the escalating situation on Sunday.
“The Myanmar security forces’ clear escalation in use of lethal force in multiple towns and cities … is outrageous and unacceptable,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
The Canadian Embassy also said it was “appalled by a trend of increased violence and use of force against protesters” and Indonesia, which has taken the lead within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in efforts to resolve the turmoil, said it was deeply concerned.