YANGON – Supporters of Myanmar’s junta attacked people protesting the military government that took power in a coup, using slingshots, iron rods and knives Thursday to injure several of the demonstrators.
The violence complicates an already intractable standoff between the military and a protest movement that has been staging large rallies daily to demand that Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government be restored to power. She and other politicians were ousted and arrested on Feb. 1 in a takeover that shocked the international community and reversed years of slow progress toward democracy.
In response, several Western countries have imposed or threatened sanctions against the military. On Thursday, Britain announced further measures against members of the ruling junta for “overseeing human rights violations since the coup.”
Amid the international outrage, Facebook also announced it would ban all accounts linked to the military as well as ads from military-controlled companies.
On Thursday, tensions escalated on the streets between anti-coup protesters and supporters of the military. Photos and videos posted on social media showed groups attacking people in downtown Yangon as police stood by without intervening.
The number of injured people and their condition was not immediately clear.
According to accounts and photos posted on social media, hundreds of people marched Thursday in support of the coup. They carried banners in English with the slogans “We Stand With Our Defence Services” and “We Stand With State Administration Council,” which is the official name of the junta.
When the marchers were jeered at by onlookers near the city’s Central Railway station, they responded by firing slingshots and throwing stones at their critics. Some marchers broke away to chase down a man and then stabbed and kicked him.