Witnesses say several people were injured when security forces stormed a rally in Yangon.
Several people were injured after Myanmar security forces crashed a car into a Yangon counter-attack, witnesses and local media reported.
Sunday’s rally was one of at least three held in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, and similar rallies were reported in other parts of the country a day before an expected verdict in the first of several criminal cases against the country’s civilians. leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was overthrown in a military takeover on 1 February.
Anti-military protests have continued despite the killings of more than 1,300 people since the coup. The scattered protests are often small groups opposing the overthrow of Suu Kyi’s elected government and the return of military rule.
Photos and videos circulating on social media apparently show a vehicle crashed by the protesters and bodies lying on the road.
According to local media outlet Myanmar Now, at least five people have been killed and 15 others arrested. Dozens of others were injured, witnesses told the Reuters news agency.
“They increased the speed as they got closer to the protesters – it was as if they were driving into them,” a journalist told the AFP news agency, which for security reasons refused to provide his name.
He said a handful of people, some with banners in support of Aung San Suu Kyi, were hit and thrown to the ground while others fled the scene. “Then the soldiers jumped out of the car and started firing,” he added.
Eyewitnesses said the “flash crowd” protest in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, was crushed minutes after it began.
“I was hit and fell in front of a truck. A soldier hit me with his rifle but I defended and pushed him back. Then he immediately shot at me as I ran away in a zigzag pattern. “Fortunately, I escaped,” a protester, who asked for security reasons not to be identified, told Reuters by telephone.
The opposition’s shadow government said it was sad to see peaceful protesters crushed and shot dead.
“We will respond strongly to the terrorist army that brutally and inhumanely killed the unarmed peaceful protesters,” the National Unity Government’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement on social media after Sunday’s attack.
An army spokesman did not respond to calls for comment Sunday.
Another rally was held in Yangon this afternoon despite the morning violence.
The military has previously said that protesters killed were inciting violence. It says it carried out the coup because a November election won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party was cheated. The Electoral Commission rejected the allegation.
Wars with ethnic minority fighters in remote border regions in the north and east have increased significantly since the coup, which displaced tens of thousands of civilians, according to United Nations estimates.
Aung San Suu Kyi, 76, faces a dozen cases against her, including incitement and violations of COVID-19 protocols.