Southeast Asia

Myanmar security forces ram car into anti-coup protest

Published : December 06, 2021 14:22 IST

A 'flash mob' protest in Yangon was violently dispersed when a large car rammed into it. Photo: AFP

A car occupied by security forces hit a crowd of anti-coup protesters in Yangon from behind, killing several people.

Myanmar security forces rammed a car into an anti-coup protest on the morning of December 5 in Yangon, killing at least five demonstrators and arresting 15 others, news portal Myanmar Now reported. The Southeast Asian nation has seen months of chaos and violence since February when the military seized power in a coup. Anti-coup protests have continued despite a crackdown by security forces, which has resulted in the killing of more than 1,300 people. The protests are often small and highly mobile, with people opposing the overthrow of an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Sunday's "flash mob" protest in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, was violently dispersed when a large car rammed into it. "I got hit and fell down in front of a truck," a protester at December 5's demonstration told news agency Reuters. "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," the person said, declining to be identified for security reasons.

Chased and beaten

Photos and videos from the scene showed a vehicle that crashed through the protesters, some of whom were carrying large banners, as well as bodies lying on the road. The car then reportedly chased scattered protesters, with security forces arresting and beating them. The soldiers also beat three people knocked over by the vehicle.

"They increased the speed when they got closer to the protesters — it was like they drove into them," a journalist told news agency AFP. "Then the soldiers jumped out of the car and started shooting," he said. A second protest was held in Yangon later in the afternoon despite the violence.

Opposition condemns attack

The opposition shadow government said it was heartbroken to see peaceful protesters killed and attacked. "We will strongly respond to the terrorist military who brutally, inhumanly killed the unarmed peaceful protesters," the National Unity Government's defense ministry said in a statement on social media after December 5's attack.

The military said that the protesters who died were the ones who instigated the violence. The junta has justified seizing power earlier this year by alleging electoral fraud in the 2019 election where Suu Kyi's party won by a landslide. Military leaders have vowed to hold a fresh election in 2023.

adi/rs (Reuters, AFP)

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