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Several dead as police crack down on protests in Myanmar

Several dead as police crack down on protests in Myanmar
© Getty Images

At least 18 people have died in Myanmar after police fired at protesters demonstrating against the military coup that saw the ouster of the democratically elected government.

Reuters reports police officers with the aid of soldiers opened fire on protesters across various parts of the city of Yangon early Sunday. They reportedly began shooting after stun grenades, tear gas and warning shots failed to disperse crowds.

“Police and military forces have confronted peaceful demonstrations, using lethal force and less-than-lethal force that – according to credible information received by the UN Human Rights Office – has left at least 18 people dead and over 30 wounded,” the U.N. human rights office said according to Reuters.

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Similar protests were broken up by police in the towns of Lashio, Myeik and Hpa-An according to Burmese resident and media.

“It’s obvious they’re trying to instil fear in us by making us run and hide,” youth activist Esther Ze Naw told Reuters. “We can’t accept that.”

Reuters notes that state television had announced on Saturday that Myanmar's U.N ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun had been fired after calling on the U.N. to use “any means necessary” to reverse the coup.

“I decided to fight back as long as I can,” the U.N. ambassador told Reuters while in New York.

These fatalities come just one week after two people died in an anti-coup protest in Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city.

The death toll due to protests has now reached at least 21, according to Reuters, with one policeman reported to have died by the army.

Multiple governments such as Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. have issued warnings to residents and foreign nationals in Myanmar to "shelter in place" as the military junta ramps up tactics to stifle protests.

Government workers have reportedly staged a strike in response to the coup, causing many government departments to cease functioning.