Security forces in Myanmar shot and killed at least four people on Saturday as they tried to end demonstrations against the military’s seizure of power in the country.
Three deaths were reported in Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city, and one in Pyay, a city in south-central Myanmar.
There were multiple reports on social media of the deaths, along with photos of people killed and injured at both locations.
The UN’s independent human rights expert for Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said Thursday that “credible reports” indicated that security forces in the Southeast Asian nation had so far killed at least 70 people.
He also cited the mounting evidence of crimes against humanity since the military overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Reports on social media also said that three people were shot and killed on Friday night in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, where residents for the past week have been defying the curfew at 8 p.m. to protest. .
Two shooting deaths were reported in Thaketa Township in Yangon, where a protest taking place outside a police station was dispersed. A crowd had gathered there to demand the release of three young men who were abducted from their home on Friday night. Photos allegedly of the bodies of two dead protesters were posted online.
The other murder reported Friday night was that of a 19-year-old man shot in Hlaing Township.
Nighttime protests may reflect a more aggressive approach to self-defense on the part of some protesters.
Police had been aggressively patrolling residential neighborhoods at night, firing into the air and throwing stun grenades in an intimidation effort.
They have also conducted targeted raids, removing people from their homes with minimal resistance. In at least two known cases, detainees died in custody within hours of being taken away.
Another possible indication of increased resistance emerged on Saturday with photos posted online of a railway bridge said to have been damaged by an explosive charge.
The bridge was described in multiple versions as on the railway line from Mandalay to Myitkyina, the capital of the northern state of Kachin. The photos show damage to part of a concrete support.
No one took responsibility for the action, but it could serve a dual purpose.
It could be seen as support for the national strike by the state railroad workers, who are part of the civil disobedience movement against the coup.
At the same time, it could be aimed at disrupting the junta’s ability to reinforce its troops in Kachin, a state whose residents have long been at odds with the central government.
The Kachin ethnic minority has its own well-trained and equipped guerrilla force, and there has been outrage in Myitkyina over the killing of anti-coup protesters by the security forces.
Some protesters have openly debated the possibility of sabotage, warning that they could blow up a pipeline supplying natural gas to China. They see China as the main supporter of the board, even though Beijing has been mildly critical of the coup in its public comments.
The February 1 coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under a strict military regime that led to isolation and international sanctions.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party led a return to civilian rule with a landslide electoral victory in 2015 and an even greater margin of votes last year. He was reportedly installed for a second five-year term last month, but instead Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other members of the government were placed in military detention.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism