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Myanmar forces fire live rounds again, three protesters badly hurt

YANGON: Myanmar security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at protesters again yesterday, leaving at least three people critically injured.

Myanmar has seen weeks of mass protests demanding the military release civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained in a Feb 1 coup.

The authorities have in response stepped up their use of force, using tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and, increasingly, live rounds.

Sunday was the bloodiest day since the coup, with the United Nations saying at least 18 protesters were killed across the country, taking the number killed since the coup to at least 21.

Another rally turned violent in the north-western town of Kale yesterday when security forces opened fire on protesters, according to medics who witnessed events and treated those wounded.

"About 20 people were injured in a morning crackdown by the police and soldiers in Kale," said a rescue worker, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.

"Three... were hit by live rounds and are in critical condition," he said, adding that the police had initially deployed tear gas and rubber bullets before doubling back with live rounds.

A doctor who treated the patients in a hospital confirmed the number of people in critical condition.

"One was hit in his thigh and he is now under operation. Another one got hit in the abdomen and he requires blood transfusion... Another one got hit in the chest," he said.

HARD HATS

Protests also continued in several different neighbourhoods of Yangon yesterday, with demonstrators wearing hard hats and wielding improvised homemade shields.

More than 1,200 people have been arrested, charged and sentenced since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group, of which some 900 are still behind bars. - AFP

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