Seven dead as Myanmar security forces fire at protesters

Yangon, March 3 (AFP/APP): At least seven people were killed as Myanmar security forces fired on pro-democracy protesters Wednesday, after the junta hit half a dozen detained journalists, including an Associated Press photographer, with criminal charges.

The country has been in chaos since February 1 when the military launched a coup and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, ending Myanmar’s decade-long experiment with democracy and sparking daily mass protests. International pressure is mounting — Western powers have repeatedly hit the generals with sanctions — and Britain has called for a United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday.

But the junta has ignored the global condemnation, responding to the uprising with escalating strength, and security services used lethal force on demonstrators again on Wednesday. Four people were shot dead during a protest in a city in central Myanmar, according to medics who spoke to AFP by phone.

Another two demonstrators died about two hours’ drive away in Mandalay, the nation’s second biggest city, medics told AFP. One of the Mandalay victims was shot in the head and the other in the chest, according to a doctor, who asked not to be named.

A protest in the central city of Myingyan also turned deadly, as security forces confronted protesters in hard hats crouching behind red home-made shields emblazoned with the three-finger salute — a symbol of resistance for the anti-coup movement. “They fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and live rounds,” a volunteer medic on the scene told AFP, adding that at least 10 people were injured.

Thet Thet Swe, from Myingyan rescue clinic, confirmed a young man was shot in the head and died. “Zin Ko Ko Zaw, a 20-year-old was shot dead on the spot and my team treated 17 injured people,” a second rescue team member told AFP.

Two rescue team members in north-western Monywa said they saw security forces taking away two individuals.

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