Five people were killed and at least 15 arrested after Birmania 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.
Nel frattempo, angry villagers burned army vehicles in protest after more than a dozen people were killed by soldiers who mistakenly believed some of them were militants in India’s remote northeast region along the border with Myanmar, officials said Sunday.
Nagaland state’s top elected official Neiphiu Rio ordered a probe into the killings, which occurred on Saturday. He tweeted, “The unfortunate incident leading to the killing of civilians at Oting is highly condemnable.”
An army officer said the soldiers fired at a truck after receiving intelligence about a movement of insurgents in the area and killed six people. As irate villagers burned two army vehicles, the soldiers fired at them, killing nine more people, the officer said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
One soldier was also killed in the clash with protesters, Egli ha detto.
An Indian army statement said it “deeply regretted” the incident and its aftermath, adding that “the cause of the unfortunate loss of lives is being investigated at the highest level and appropriate action will be taken as per the course of law.”