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Casualties rise as police step up crackdown

A violent crackdown on anti-coup protesters in Myanmar intensified on Sunday with police using live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Huge protests in cities such as Yangon, Mandalay and Dawei have continued despite the police response.

There are reports of fatalities, although they are difficult to confirm.

The country has been rocked by protests since top government leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, were overthrown and detained by the army on 1 February.

Social media footage from Sunday showed protesters running away as police charged at them, makeshift roadblocks being erected, and several people being led away covered in blood.

The police crackdown, which began in earnest on Saturday, was extended as coup leaders sought to quash a largely peaceful civil disobedience campaign that has shown no sign of ending.

What is happening on the ground?

In the largest city, Yangon, police fired bullets after stun grenades and tear gas failed to disperse protesters. Social media images showed blood on the streets as people were helped away by fellow protesters.

A doctor told Reuters one man had died in hospital with a bullet wound to the chest.

The protesters remained defiant, with some setting up barricades.

“If they push us, we’ll rise. If they attack us, we’ll defend. We’ll never kneel down to the military boots,” protester Nyan Win Shein told Reuters.

Another, Amy Kyaw, told AFP: “Police started shooting just as we arrived. They didn’t say a word of warning. Some got injured and some teachers are still hiding in neighbours’ houses.”

Some protesters were herded away in police vans.

In the south-eastern city of Dawei, security forces moved to break up a rally.

There are reports of live rounds being used. The Dawei Watch media outlet said at least one person was killed and more than a dozen wounded. One emergency worker told Reuters there were three deaths, with many more casualties feared.

Police were also cracking down on a large rally in Mandalay, where police used water cannon and fired into the air.

Protests have continued elsewhere, including the north-eastern town of Lashio.

The number of arrests since the protests began has not been confirmed. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group has put the figure at 850, but hundreds more appear to have been detained this weekend.

bbc

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