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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 28 February 2021

Two protesters shot dead in Myanmar during clash at shipyard in Mandalay

Details of the incident are still emerging but medics have confirmed two fatalities

A man is provided with first aid during a protest in Mandalay, Myanmar on Saturday, Februay 20, 2021. Security forces in Myanmar ratcheted up their pressure against anti-coup protesters Saturday, using water cannons, tear gas, slingshots and rubber bullets against demonstrators and striking dock workers in Mandalay, the nation's second-largest city. AP
A man is provided with first aid during a protest in Mandalay, Myanmar on Saturday, Februay 20, 2021. Security forces in Myanmar ratcheted up their pressure against anti-coup protesters Saturday, using water cannons, tear gas, slingshots and rubber bullets against demonstrators and striking dock workers in Mandalay, the nation's second-largest city. AP

Security forces fired live rounds at protesters in Myanmar's second largest city, Mandalay, after a police raid at a shipyard turned violent on Saturday, leaving at least forty wounded and two dead, said medical staff on the scene.

They are shooting cruelly. We have to find a safer place

Protester in Mandalay

The use of live rounds was confirmed by a doctor at the scene.

Mass demonstrations had been underway across the country following a military coup which began on February 1.

On Saturday, hundreds of police and soldiers gathered at Yadanarbon shipyard in Mandalay, on the Irrawaddy river.

Their presence sparked fears among nearby residents that authorities would try to arrest workers for taking part in the anti-coup movement.

Banging pots and pans in what has become a signature gesture of defiance, protesters started yelling at the police to leave.

But police opened fire with live rounds, rubber bullets and slingshot balls, dispersing the alarmed protesters.

"We transferred those who were seriously injured and in a critical condition to another place for intensive care, but we cannot reveal the place," said a medical worker at the scene, in remarks to AFP.

Another doctor said that resources to treat the injured were lacking.

"We do not have enough medicine for them to be treated here," he said, explaining the transfer.

Around the protest site, empty bullet cartridges were found, as well as slingshot ammunition including metal balls.

One woman received a head wound from a rubber bullet and emergency workers quickly administered first aid to her.

A Facebook video streamed live by a resident on the scene appeared to carry non-stop sounds of gunshots.

"They are shooting cruelly," said the resident, who appeared to be taking shelter on a nearby construction site. "We have to find a safer place."

Since the nationwide protests started two weeks ago, authorities in some cities have deployed tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets against demonstrators.

There have been isolated incidents of live rounds being fired.

An anti-coup protester who was shot in the head during a February 9 demonstration in Naypyidaw died on Friday. Her doctors had confirmed that her injury was from a live bullet.

Mounting tension

As demonstrations across the country gathered pace following the February 1 coup, the military junta has repeatedly warned citizens to stay off the streets. State MRTV channel outlined the military's position, which banned gatherings of more than five citizens.

"Action must be taken according to the law with effective steps against offences which disturb, prevent and destroy the state's stability, public safety and the rule of law," read a statement relayed on the channel.

Protesters have remained undeterred, amid internet blackouts and ongoing reports of heavy handed tactics used by security forces.

Rights groups have warned on several occasions that the army might be prepared to use lethal force.

"As peaceful demonstrations grow, the risk of violence is real. We all know what the Myanmar army is capable of: mass atrocities, killing of civilians, enforced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary arrests, among others," said Tom Villarin, who works with regional organisation the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights.

Updated: February 20, 2021 07:36 PM

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