UN: At least 18 killed by Myanmar forces in several cities

Full Screen
1 / 13

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Protesters shout slogans as police arrive during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month's military takeover, deploying early and in force on Saturday as protesters sought to assemble in the country's two biggest cities and elsewhere. (AP Photo)

YANGON – Security forces in Myanmar opened fire and made mass arrests Sunday as they sought to break up protests against the military’s seizure of power, and a U.N. human rights official said it had “credible information” that at least 18 people were killed and 30 were wounded.

That would be the highest single-day death toll among protesters who are demanding that the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi be restored to power after being ousted by a Feb. 1 coup. About 1,000 people are believed to have been detained Sunday.

“Deaths reportedly occurred as a result of live ammunition fired into crowds in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myeik, Bago and Pokokku,” the U.N. Human Rights Office said in a statement referring to several cities, adding that the forces also used tear gas, flash-bang grenades and stun grenades.

An Associated Press journalist was taken into police custody on Saturday morning while providing news coverage of the protests. The journalist, Thein Zaw, remains in police custody.

The AP called for his immediate release.

“Independent journalists must be allowed to freely and safely report the news without fear of retribution. AP decries in the strongest terms the arbitrary detention of Thein Zaw,” said Ian Phillips, AP vice president for international news. The Foreign Correspondents Club of Myanmar also condemned the arrest.

The Democratic Voice of Burma reported that as of 5 p.m. in Myanmar, there had been 19 confirmed deaths in nine cities, with another 10 deaths unconfirmed. The independent media company broadcasts on satellite and digital terrestrial television, as well as online.

DVB counted five deaths in Yangon and two in Mandalay, the largest and second-largest cities.