Myanmar security forces kill at least 18 anti-coup protesters

Security forces open fire on people with little warning across Myanmar

MYANMAR: Security forces in Myanmar opened fire on protests against military rule yesterday, killing at least 18 people, a day after neighbouring countries called for restraint and offered to help Myanmar resolve the crisis.

The security forces resorted to live fire with little warning in several towns and cities, witnesses said, as the junta appeared more determined than ever to stamp out protests against the Feb 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi.

"As of now, so-called military killed at least 18," said joint secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Ko Bo Kyi in a post on Twitter.

Youth activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi told Reuters via a messaging app: "It is horrific; it is a massacre. No words can describe the situation and our feelings,"

The heaviest toll was in the central town of Monywa, where five people - four men and one woman - were killed, said Mr Ko Thit Sar, editor of the Monywa Gazette.

"We've confirmed with family members and doctors, five people have been killed," he said. "At least 30 people are wounded, some still unconscious."

In Yangon, the largest city, witnesses said at least three people were killed when security forces opened fire with automatic weapons in the early evening.

"I heard so much continuous firing. I lay down on the ground, they shoot a lot and I saw two people killed on the spot," protester Kaung Pyae Sone Tun, 23, said. He said several people were wounded and carried away.

Two people were killed in the country's second-biggest city Mandalay, a witness and media reports said. Others were killed in Hpakant and Myingyan.

At least 35 people have been killed since the coup.

The violence came a day after foreign ministers from South-east Asian neighbours urged restraint. - REUTERS