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Myanmar civilian leader urges self-defense against military crackdown

By Reuters Staff, published by US News & World Report

SECURITY forces opened fire on demonstrators in Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon today (March 14) and at least three people were killed as protests against the military’s seizure of power continued for a sixth week, witnesses and domestic media said.

Video showed protesters holding handmade shields and wearing helmets as they confronted security forces in the Hlaingthaya district of the city. Plumes of black smoke rose over the area.

Chinese state-owned broadcaster CGTN said two Chinese-funded clothes factories in the district were set ablaze by people who arrived on motorcycles, armed with iron rods, axes and gasoline.

More than 80 people had been killed and over 2,100 arrested as of Saturday in widespread protests against the military coup on Feb. 1, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group said.

Mahn Win Khaing Than, the acting leader of Myanmar’s parallel civilian government, addressed the public via Facebook on Saturday, saying, “This is the darkest moment of the nation and the moment that the dawn is close.”

The Irrawaddy media group said three people were killed when police opened fire on protesters in Yangon on today. Myanmar Now said 15 people were also injured.

At least two people were killed elsewhere in the Southeast Asian nation, a day after Mahn Win Khaing Than, who is on the run along with most senior officials from the ruling National League for Democracy Party, said the civilian government would seek to give people the legal right to defend themselves.

A young man was shot and killed in the town of Bago, near Yangon, witnesses and domestic media said. The Kachin Wave media outlet said another protester was killed in the town of Hpakant, in the jade mining area in the northeast.

The Monywa township in central Myanmar declared it had formed its own local government and police force.

In Yangon, hundreds of people demonstrated in different parts of the city after putting up barricades of barbed wire and sandbags to block security forces.

In one area, people staged a sit-in protest under sheets of tarpaulin rigged up to protect them from the harsh midday sun. “We need justice,” they chanted.

At least 13 people were killed on Saturday, one of the bloodiest days since the coup, witnesses and domestic media said.

“They are acting like they are in a war zone, with unarmed people,” said Myat Thu, an activist in the city of Mandalay.

A spokesman for the junta did not answer phone calls from Reuters seeking comment. Junta-run media MRTV’s evening news broadcast on Saturday labelled the protesters “criminals” but did not elaborate.


Top: Protesters use fire extinguishers during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar today, March 14, 2021. Photo: Reuters/ Stringer and published by US News & World Report

Home Page: Family members cry near the coffin of Ye Swe Oo, 20, who was shot and killed during the security crackdown on anti-coup protesters in Mandalay, Myanmar, today, March 14, 2021. Photo: Reuters and published by Gulf News

(Reporting by Reuters staff; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by William Mallard, Tom Hogue and David Clarke)


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