At least 14 protesters have been killed in clashes in Myanmar’s main city Yangon as politicians ousted by the military coup called for “revolution”.
Security forces opened fire in the Yangon township of Hlaing Tharyar while some protesters fought back with sticks and knives, reports BBC.
Meanwhile China urged Myanmar to protect Chinese-owned factories after several were attacked in the area.
Myanmar has been gripped by protests since the military seized control.
The army has also detained Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s civilian leader and head of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party. The NLD won a landslide in last year’s election but the military alleged there had been widespread fraud.
Some of the ousted MPs have refused to accept last month’s coup and have gone into hiding.
In his first public address, their leader Mahn Win Khaing Than urged protesters to defend themselves against the military crackdown during what he called a “revolution”.
“This is the darkest moment of the nation and the moment that the dawn is close,” he said.
What happened in Hlaing Tharyar?
Security forces used rubber bullets and live rounds, according to medics quoted by news agencies.
At least 14 protesters were killed, according the Myanmar Now website, while other local reports said the toll was higher.
“Three died in front of me while I was giving treatment. I’m sending another two to hospital. That’s all I can say at this moment,” one medic told AFP.
Gunshots were heard throughout the day and military trucks were seen in the streets.
One police officer posted on social media that police were planning to use heavy weaponry.
“I will not have mercy on Hlaing Tharyar and they will fight back seriously too because there are all kinds of characters there,” the officer said in the subsequently deleted TikTok post.
Meanwhile plumes of smoke were seen rising from a nearby industrial area. China said Chinese-funded factories were attacked and set on fire and several Chinese nationals had been injured.
Many protesters believe China is giving support to the Burmese military.
What did Mahn Win Khaing Than say?
NLD MPs who managed to escape arrest after the coup formed a new group, the CRPH, or Committee for Representing the Union Parliament.
Mahn Win Khaing Than was appointed the CRPH’s acting head and the group is seeking international recognition as Myanmar’s rightful government.
In a speech on Facebook, Mahn Win Khaing Than said: “This is the time for our citizens to test their resistance against the dark moments.
“In order to form a federal democracy, which all ethnic brothers who have been suffering various kinds of oppressions from the dictatorship for decades really desired, this revolution is the chance for us to put our efforts together.
What’s the background?
Independent international observers have disputed the military’s claim of the fraudulent election held in November 2020, saying no irregularities were observed.
Last week, the military accused Ms Suu Kyi of illegally accepting $600,000 (£430,000) and 11kg of gold. No evidence was provided and an NLD lawmaker denied the allegation.
Ms Suu Kyi has been held for the past five weeks at an undisclosed location and faces several other charges including causing “fear and alarm”, illegally possessing radio equipment, and breaking Covid-19 restrictions.
Myanmar became independent from Britain in 1948. For much of its modern history, it has been under military rule.
Restrictions began loosening from 2010 onwards, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government led by veteran opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the following year.
In 2017, Myanmar’s army responded to attacks on police by Rohingya militants with a deadly crackdown, driving more than half a million Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh in what the UN later called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”