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Police disperse demonstrators in Myanmar after protest ban

Police disperse demonstrators in Myanmar after protest ban
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Myanmar police on Tuesday fired rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse crowds of protesters a day after the junta responsible for the country’s military coup announced a strict ban on public demonstrations. 

The Associated Press reported that witnesses noted that police fired at least two warning shots to try to break up crowds in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-biggest city, with police also using water cannons on protesters and firing shots into the air in the capital of Naypyitaw. 

At least four people were taken to the hospital Tuesday, with doctors telling Reuters that the wounds were believed to have been caused by rubber bullets police used to try to clear protesters. 

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A doctor who spoke to Reuters and declined to be identified said that one woman who was shot in the head by a rubber bullet was not expected to survive. 

“She hasn’t passed away yet, she’s in the emergency unit, but it’s 100 percent certain the injury is fatal,” the doctor said, adding that an X-ray showed the bullet was lodged in her head. 

The AP reported that it was unable to immediately confirm reports on social media of live rounds being shot and deaths among protesters. 

Tuesday’s protests are the latest in ongoing demonstrations throughout Myanmar in opposition to the military coup earlier this month in which the nation’s elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other ruling party members were detained the same day candidates elected to Myanmar’s parliament were set to take office.

The junta has argued the election results are invalid due to widespread voter fraud, contradicting the national election commission. The military has also blamed Suu Kyi for what they allege to be corrupt election systems and ignoring human rights abuses in the country. 

Two days after the coup, police in Myanmar charged Suu Kyi with illegally importing communications equipment, allowing authorities to hold her until Feb. 15 while an investigation is conducted. 

Police in recent days have sought to curb protests seeking to restore Myanmar’s elected government, with the junta on Monday announcing an 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew in parts of the cities of Mandalay and Yangon, as well as a ban of any motorized processions or gatherings of more than five people.