Yangon — Four ethnic Chin protesters were killed and at least 10 others wounded as police and soldiers used live rounds on anti-regime protesters in Kale Township, Sagaing Region, on Wednesday, according to residents.
Protests in Kale began on Feb. 7, six days after the coup. The security forces started to use force on March 2, shooting an 18-year-old dead.
“He was the first protester to die in Kale. And four more were killed on Wednesday,” said Kale resident U Kyaw.
The March 2 incident has since forced anti-regime protesters to march separately rather than in one group. On Wednesday, protesters from Tar Han village, which is majority Chin, were surrounded by the security forces upon their arrival in Myo Hla in Kale.
Around 30 protesters were trapped and others managed to escape. Firing reportedly started when an ambulance tried to rescue the protesters. The first victim was a man who came to rescue his younger sister.
“Two people died in the morning. One was shot in the head and another in the chest. People burned tires on some bridges to block roads,” said a resident.
On Wednesday afternoon, ethnic Chin protesters, angry about the morning’s violence, blocked roads in western Kale. Two more protesters died when the military opened fire.
“Both of them were shot in the head,” said a Kale resident.
At least 10 injured protesters were taken to private hospitals and clinics. None of them are in a critical condition, he said.
One of the four victims was a 20-year-old man who died on the spot after a bullet penetrated his shield and hit him in the head.
“He was hit by a live bullet as he withdrew with other protesters,” said the victim’s brother, Do Chin Meng. He said was unable to remove his brother’s body and was trying to retrieve it from Kale Hospital, he told The Irrawaddy.
“All the victims were men,” he added. Around 10 people were also arrested on Tuesday and residents used burning tires to block roads in western Kale.
Despite fatal shootings, residents gathered to march on Thursday morning and dispersed when more military trucks arrived.
The security forces showered Aung Thitsar in Kale on Sunday with live rounds and rubber bullets. At least three civilians were hit by rubber bullets and one of them remains in a critical condition, said residents.
“The security forces clamped down on Aung Thitsar on Sunday evening. Residents were holding a candlelit vigil and shouting anti-regime slogans. They banged pots and pans when the soldiers came. The security forces withdrew but returned later and fired for no reason,” said a resident.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, by Thursday 217 civilians have been killed at anti-regime protests since Feb. 1 the coup.
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