Myanmar’s crackdown triggers an exodus from its biggest city

Yangon, March 19 (AFP/APP): Roads out of Myanmar’s biggest city were choked Friday with people fleeing the junta’s deadly crackdown on anti-coup dissent, as authorities in neighbouring Thailand said they were preparing for an influx of refugees.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, triggering a mass uprising that security forces have sought to crush with a campaign of violence and fear. More than 220 people have been confirmed killed and 2,000 detained, according to a local monitoring group.

The junta this week imposed martial law over six townships in Yangon, the nation’s former capital and commercial hub, effectively putting nearly two million people under direct control of military commanders. On Friday, local media showed traffic clogging up a main highway going north out of Yangon, reporting that people were fleeing the city for rural areas.

“I no longer feel safe and secure anymore — some nights I am not able to sleep,” a resident near one of the districts where security forces have killed protesters this week told AFP. “I am very worried that the worst will happen next because where I live… is very intense, with security forces taking people from the streets.”

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