Myanmar security forces opened fire on protesters against military rule on Wednesday, killing at least 33 people, witnesses and media reported, a day after neighbouring countries called for restraint and offered to help Myanmar resolve the crisis.
The security forces resorted to live fire with little warning in several towns and cities, witnesses said, as the junta appeared more determined than ever to stamp out protests against the February 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. “It's horrific, it's a massacre. No words can describe the situation and our feelings,” youth activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi told Reuters via a messaging app. A spokesman for the ruling military council did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.
The heaviest toll was in the central town of Monywa, where five people — four men and one woman — were killed, said Ko Thit Sar, editor of the Monywa Gazette. “We've confirmed with family members and doctors, five people have been killed,” he told Reuters.
“At least 30 people are wounded, some still unconscious.” In the main city Yangon, witnesses said at least three people were killed when security forces opened fire with automatic weapons in the early evening.
“I heard so much continuous firing. I lay down on the ground, they shoot a lot and I saw two people killed on the spot,” protester Kaung Pyae Sone Tun, 23, told Reuters. He said several people were wounded and carried away.
Two people were killed in the country’s second-biggest city Mandalay, a witness and media reports said. Two people were killed in the northern mining town of Hpakant, a resident there said, and one person was killed in the central town of Myingyan. At least 55 people have been killed since the coup.
The violence came a day after foreign ministers from Southeast Asian neighbours urged restraint but failed to unite behind a call for the release Suu Kyi and the restoration of democracy.
“The country is like the Tiananmen Square in most of its major cities,” the Archbishop of Yangon, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, said on Twitter, referring to the violent suppression of student-led protests in Beijing in 1989. Myanmar's state media said the military-appointed foreign minister “apprised the administration of voting irregularities” in a November election.
Ousted President Win Myint is facing two new charges, his lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, said, including one for a breach of the constitution.