Five people were killed and at least 15 arrested after Myanmar security forces in a car rammed into an anti-coup protest on Sunday morning in Yangon, local news portal Myanmar Now reported.
Witnesses on the scene told Reuters dozens had been injured. Photos and videos on social media show a vehicle that crashed through the protesters and bodies lying on the road.
Another protest was held in Yangon in the afternoon despite the morning violence.
Anti-military protests are continuing despite the killing of more than 1,300 people since the February 1st coup. The scattered protests are often small groups voicing opposition to the overthrow of an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and the return of military rule.
On Sunday, a “flash mob” protest in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, was rammed minutes after it started, and witnesses told Reuters police arrested several people.
“I got hit and fell down in front of a truck. A soldier beat me with his rifle but I defended and pushed him back. Then he immediately shot at me as I ran away in a zig-zag pattern. Fortunately, I escaped,” a protester who asked not to be identified for security reasons told Reuters by phone.
A car occupied by soldiers hit the mob from the back, two witnesses said, and followed the scattered protesters arresting and beating them. Some were seriously injured with head wounds and unconscious, according to the witnesses.
A spokesman for the ruling junta did not answer calls seeking comment on Sunday.
The military has said that protesters who have been killed instigated the violence. It says it staged the coup because a November election won by Ms Suu Kyi’s party was rigged. The election commission has dismissed the assertion.
Wars with ethnic minority insurgents in remote frontier regions in the north and east have intensified significantly since the coup, displacing tens of thousands of civilians, according to United Nations estimates.
Ms Suu Kyi (76) faces a dozen cases against her including incitement and violations of Covid-19 protocols. She has rejected all the charges to date.
Meanwhile, angry villagers in India burned army vehicles in protest after more than a dozen people were killed by soldiers who mistakenly believed some of them were militants in India's remote northeast region along the border with Myanmar, officials said.
Nagaland state’s top elected official Neiphiu Rio ordered an investigation into the killings, which occurred on Saturday, and he tweeted: “The unfortunate incident leading to the killing of civilians at Oting is highly condemnable.”
An army officer said the soldiers fired at a lorry after receiving intelligence about a movement of insurgents in the area and killed six people.
As irate villagers burned two army vehicles, the soldiers fired at them, killing seven more people, the officer said.
One soldier was also killed in the clash with protesters, he said.
Insurgents often cross into Myanmar after attacking Indian government forces in the remote area.
Nyamtow Konyak, a local community leader, said those killed were coal miners.
India's home minister Amit Shah expressed anguish over the "unfortunate incident" and said the state government will investigate the killings.
The army officer said the soldiers had laid an ambush for a week following intelligence that insurgents were planning to attack soldiers in the area, 400km east of Gauhati, the capital of Assam state.
Government forces are battling dozens of ethnic insurgent groups in India’s remote northeast whose demands range from independent homelands to maximum autonomy within India. – Reuters, Associated Press