18 killed in Myanmar's anti-coup protests: Human Rights group
At least 18 people were killed as security forces in Myanmar fired on pro-democracy protesters on Wednesday, according to a Human Rights group. Earlier in February, Myanmar's military had staged a coup, detaining leader Aung San Suu Kyi along with senior members of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD). The coup has sparked a major anti-coup agitation across the nation.
Ko Bo Kyi, joint secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), said in a post on Twitter, "As of now, the so-called military killed at least 18 deaths from North Okkalapa in RGN, Mandalay, Monywa, Myingyan, Pyin Oo Lwin and Salin in Magwe." "The death list may increase later. In addition, many got injuries. Some are critical situation," the tweet added.
In Monywa city in the Sagaing region, at least seven people were killed on Wednesday, an emergency doctor, who chose to remain anonymous, told Agence France-Presse. In Mandalay, Myanmar's second-largest city, two protesters were killed, a doctor told the news agency. One of the two deceased was a 19-year-old who was shot in the head, the doctor added.
The bloodiest protest day was Sunday when the UN confirmed at least 18 deaths. The same day, at least 1,300 people were reportedly arrested. However, the AAPP said only 1,200 have been arrested since the coup, and 900 remain behind bars or are facing charges.
The NLD won elections with a massive majority in November but the country's powerful military leveled allegations of fraud, claiming that it unearthed over 10 million cases of cheating. On February 1, the military staged a coup and 640 people have reportedly been detained since. Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing now holds legislative, executive, and judicial powers.
A massive and largely peaceful civil disobedience campaign demanding Suu Kyi's release has faced a brutal crackdown by authorities. Authorities have threatened "loss of life" to protesters, who remain undeterred in their demand for the restoration of their democratically-elected government.
International pressure against Myanmar has been increasing with Western countries responding to the coup with sanctions targeting Myanmar's top generals. Britain has called for a UN Security Council meeting on Friday. Myanmar's Foreign Ministry responded to UN's criticism describing the global body's move as "flagrant interference" in its internal affairs. Meanwhile, authorities continue to use lethal force, responding to the uprising with escalating strength.