Myanmar Coup: Security forces kill at least 18 protesters, hurt dozens

Myanmar witnessed it’s deadliest day of protests since the military junta ousted the democratically elected government of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 18 people died and more than 30 were injured, according to the United Nations Human Rights Office.

Images showed bodies lying in pools of blood on the streets, the injured frantically carried away with bullet wounds peppering their limbs, and protesters huddled behind makeshift shields and barricades, as Myanmar’s security forces Sunday launched their most violent and deadly crackdown on peaceful demonstrators since the February 1 coup.

Before Sunday, protests had seen sporadic violence in some areas but there appeared to be a coordinated change of tack from security forces across the country, who opened fire on protesters, used tear gas, flash bangs and stun grenades in towns and cities.

“Myanmar is like a battlefield,” Charles Maung Bo, the archbishop of Yangon and Myanmar’s first Catholic cardinal, said on Twitter.

Even before midday, reports of police using lethal force against peaceful demonstrators started to trickle in as thousands of people took to the streets once again, calling for the military to hand back power

The UN Human Rights Office said that “deaths reportedly occurred as a result of live ammunition fired into crowds” in multiple locations, including the largest city Yangon, in southeastern Dawei, Mandalay, southern Myeik, central Bago and Pokokku, according to a statement from spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani.

The statement condemned the “escalating violence” and urged the military to “immediately halt the use of force against peaceful protesters,” saying that “the people of Myanmar have the right to assemble peacefully and demand the restoration of democracy.”