Five people were killed and at least 15 arrested after Burmese security forces in a car crashed into a coup protest in Yangon on Sunday, local media reported.
Witnesses there said dozens of people were injured. Photos and videos on social media show a vehicle crashing into protesters and bodies lying on the road.
Another protest took place in Yangon later in the day despite the violence. Protests against the military have continued despite the murder of over 1,300 people since the February 1 coup. The dispersed protests tend to involve small groups expressing their opposition to the overthrow of the elected government led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and the return of military rule.
The opposition shadow government has said it is heartbroken over the latest deaths. “We will respond strongly to the terrorist military who brutally and inhumanely killed unarmed peaceful protesters,” the national unity government defense ministry said in a statement posted on social media.
A “flash mob” demonstration was rammed within minutes of its start, witnesses said.
“I was hit and fell in front of a truck,” one protester said over the phone. “A soldier beat me with his rifle but I defended myself and pushed him back. Then he immediately shot me as I zigzagged away. Fortunately, I escaped.
A car occupied by soldiers struck the crowd from behind, two witnesses said, then followed the dispersed protesters, stopping and beating them. Some suffered head injuries and lost consciousness, witnesses said.
A spokesman for the military junta did not respond to calls for comment on Sunday, but he previously said killed protesters instigated the violence.
The military also said it staged the coup because the November election won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party was rigged, a claim the election commission rejected.
Wars with ethnic minority insurgents in remote northern and eastern border areas have escalated dramatically since the coup, displacing tens of thousands of civilians, according to UN estimates.
Aun San Suu Kyi, 76, faces a dozen cases against him, including incitement and violations of Covid-19 protocols. She dismissed all charges against her.