Security forces in the central Myanmar city of Monywa opened fire on anti-coup protesters on Saturday, killing at least two people, according to local media.
A video posted on social media showed a group of protesters carrying off a young man with what appeared to be a serious head injury, as shots rang out. His condition was not immediately known.
At least seven people were injured in the shooting, two of whom were seriously injured and detained by soldiers, Myanmar Now said, citing a member of a local rescue team.
A human rights group said increasing violence since the military seizure on February 1 has killed at least 550 civilians.
Of these, 46 were children, according to the Myanmar Political Prisoners Assistance Association. Some 2,751 people have been arrested or sentenced, the group said.
Threats of deadly violence and arrests of protesters have failed to suppress daily demonstrations across Myanmar.
They demand that the military resign and reinstate the democratically elected government. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in the Southeast Asian country.
Late on Friday, armed plainclothes police detained five people after they spoke to a CNN reporter at a market in Yangon, the country’s largest city, local media reported, citing witnesses. The arrests occurred in three separate incidents.
Two women reportedly shouted for help while being arrested, Myanmar Now reported. A police officer, who was carrying a weapon, asked if “anyone dared to help them,” a witness told the news service.
“They pointed their pistols at everyone, passersby and people in the store,” said a witness of two police officers, who forcibly took two other women into the market.
Meanwhile, the Karen National Union, which represents the ethnic minority rebel group that has been fighting the government for decades, condemned “continuous bombing and airstrikes” against villages and “unarmed civilians” in their homeland throughout the border with Thailand.
“The attacks have caused the death of many people, including children and students, and the destruction of schools, residences and villages. These terrorist acts are clearly a flagrant violation of local and international laws,” the group said in a statement.
In Karen-controlled areas, more than a dozen civilians have died and more than 20,000 have been displaced since March 27, according to Free Burma Rangers, an aid agency operating in the region.
About 3,000 Karen fled to Thailand, but many have returned in unclear circumstances. Thai authorities said they returned voluntarily, but aid groups say they are not safe and many are hiding in the jungle and in caves on the Myanmar side of the border.
More than a dozen minority groups have sought greater autonomy from the central government for decades, sometimes through armed struggle. Several of the major groups, including Kachin, Karen and Rakhine Arakan’s Army, have denounced the coup and said they will defend the protesters on their territories.
After weeks of overnight internet outages, the Myanmar military shut down all links on Friday except those using fiber optic cable, which operated at drastically reduced speeds. Access to mobile networks and all things wireless, the least expensive options used by most people in developing countries, remained blocked on Saturday.
Myanmar languished for five decades under a strict military regime, prompting isolation and international sanctions. As the generals loosened their grip, culminating in Aung San Suu Kyi’s rise to leadership in the 2015 elections, the international community responded by lifting most sanctions and pouring investment into the country.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism