Two anti-coup protesters were shot dead by riot police who fired live rounds Saturday in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, local media reported.
One of the victims was shot in the head and died at the scene, according to Frontier Myanmar, a news and business magazine based in Yangon, the country’s largest city. Another was shot in the chest and died en route to the hospital.
Several other serious injuries were also reported. The shootings occurred near Mandalay’s Yadanabon dock, where tear gas and rubber bullets were used on protesters earlier in the day.
The Irrawaddy news website also confirmed the deaths on social media.
Security forces had been increasing their pressure against anti-coup protesters earlier Saturday, using water cannons, tear gas, slingshots and rubber bullets against demonstrators and striking dock workers in Mandalay.
At least five people were injured by rubber bullets and had to be carried away in ambulances, according to an Associated Press journalist who witnessed the violence.
Some 500 police and soldiers descended on the area near Yadanabon dock after dock workers joined the national civil disobedience movement, refusing to work until the military junta that seized power in a Feb. 1 coup reinstates the democratically elected government.
Protesters and residents were forced to flee the neighborhood amid the violence, as security forces chased after them.
There were reports of sounds that resembled gunfire. A group of journalists was forced to flee after being hit with tear gas and slingshot projectiles.
Earlier in the week in Mandalay, security forces cracked down on state railway workers in a similar fashion after they joined the civil disobedience movement.
Less than an hour after the 8 p.m. curfew started on Wednesday, gunshots were heard as more than two dozen police officers with shields and helmets marched past railway workers’ housing. Numerous videos posted on social media showed muzzle flashes as shots were heard, and some police shot slingshots and threw rocks at the buildings. Marching chants of “left, right, left, right” could be heard along with shouts of “shoot, shoot.”
Also Saturday, anti-coup protesters in Myanmar’s two largest cities paid tribute to a young woman who died a day earlier after being shot by police during a rally against the military takeover.
An impromptu memorial created under an elevated roadway in Yangon attracted around 1,000 protesters. A wreath of bright yellow flowers was hung beneath a photograph of Mya Thwet Thwet Khine, who was shot in the capital, Naypyitaw, on Feb. 9, two days before her 20th birthday.
Her death on Friday, announced by her family, was the first confirmed fatality among thousands of protesters who have faced off against security forces since top military commander Min Aung Hlaing took power in the coup.