Myanmar coup: Nine pro-democracy protesters reported killed as calls for peace from southeast Asian nations fail

Nine people have been reported killed on the streets of Myanmar as pro-democracy protests continue against the military coup.

Security forces have used tear gas, stun guns and grenades and opened fire with little warning in several towns and cities to break up protests, witnesses said.

Two people were killed during clashes at a protest in the country’s second-biggest city Mandalay, a witness and media reports said, while one person was reported killed when police opened fire in the main city of Yangon.

The Monywa Gazette reported five people were killed in the central town when police opened fire.

Student activist Moe Myint Hein, 25, said one person was shot and killed in the town of Myingyan, adding: “They opened fire on us with live bullets. One was killed, he’s young, a teenage boy, shot in the head,”

A spokesman for the ruling military council did not answer telephone calls seeking comment, Reuters news agency said.

The security forces detained about 300 protesters as they broke up protests in Yangon, Myanmar Now news agency reported.

According to activists, a total of 1,300 people have been detained, among them six journalists in Yangon.

The violence comes a day after foreign ministers from Myanmar’s southeast Asian neighbours urged the military to end the protests but failed to unite behind a call for the military to release ousted government leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said in a statement: “We expressed ASEAN’s readiness to assist Myanmar in a positive, peaceful and constructive manner.”

Myanmar‘s state media said the military-appointed foreign minister attended the ASEAN meeting that “exchanged views on regional and international issues”, but made no mention of the focus on Myanmar’s problems.

At least 30 people have been killed since the coup began on 1 February, which ended Myanmar’s tentative steps towards democratic rule and triggered nationwide protests and international outcry.

Generals seized power in Myanmar, claiming there was fraud in last November’s election which the party of de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi won by a landslide.

Pope Francis said the hopes of the people of Myanmar cannot be “suffocated by violence” and again called for the release of political prisoners.

“No more words, action,” activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi told Reuters in a message when asked about the ASEAN effort. She called for sanctions on businesses linked to the military.

Tuesday evening’s news bulletin on Myanmar state television said agitators were mobilising people on social media and forming “illegal organisations”.

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