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2 killed, dozens injured amid Myanmar police opening fire

An injured man is carried on a stretcher by medical staff after police fired at demonstrators in Mandalay Saturday during a protest against the military coup. Photo by Zaw Hein/EPA-EFE
An injured man is carried on a stretcher by medical staff after police fired at demonstrators in Mandalay Saturday during a protest against the military coup. Photo by Zaw Hein/EPA-EFE

Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Myanmar police killed two people and injured dozens Saturday amid opening fire on protesters in Mandalay after sailors refused to return to work.

The two civilians, including a young man, were killed after riot police opened fire with live ammunition and rubber bullets at protesters in Myanmar's second largest city after Yangon, according to The Irrawaddy.

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At least 40 protesters were injured, according to volunteer medics, in "the bloodiest day" in more than two weeks of protest against the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reported, with one volunteer, Ko Kyaw Lin, telling The Times he could not reach some of the injured because of police shooting at the crowd.

Police tried to force workers to sail a ship from Mandalay about 200 miles up the Irrawaddy River to the city of Bhamo, according to The Times, and after the sailors refused, a crowd supported them and rolled barrels into the streets to build a barricade from police. Authorities also used water cannons, tear gas, and slingshots to disperse the crowd of more than 1,000 protesters blocking the police at the shipyard before the live ammunition, with dock worker Ko Min Kyaw, 38, among the injured demonstrators.

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"We were protesting against the military coup, peacefully," Kyaw told The New York Times. "The police started to shoot with slingshots and then they fired real bullets at us."

CNN also confirmed that live rounds and tear gas were used to disperse people Saturday.

Hundreds of thousands of workers have been striking across Myanmar in the Civil Disobedience Movement since protests started three days after the Myanmar military took over the government and detained its civilian leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other high-ranking elected officials in a Feb. 1 coup.

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A young woman, Mya Thwate Khaing, who just turned 20, died Friday after being on life support since she was taken to the hospital on Feb. 9 because she was hit by a live bullet at a protest in the capital, Naypyidaw, was the first known casualty from the protests.

The protesters are demanding that Kyi be released along with other members of the National League Democracy Party.

The military, also known as the Tatmadaw, made unsubstantiated claims of fraud after November's parliamentary elections, during which Kyi won a landslide 399 of the 462 seats in parliament.

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During a court appearance Tuesday, the Myanmar military charged ousted civilian leader Kyi with another crime that also involved deposed President Win Myint.

Kyi was previously charged with possessing illegal radios and now faces an additional charge of violating a disaster management law by interacting with a crowd during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mywint, who was Myanamar's president under Kyi, was charged with breaching natural disaster restrictions.

On Friday morning, 11 people, including two female teachers, were arrested at a gathering in front of Myitkyina Education College in the Kachin State as part of the CDM, and were released by the evening, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said in a daily briefing. The teachers were beaten and the AAPP shared an X-ray image, indicating damage to one teacher Daw Aye Aye Kyi Sein's fingers.

Over 500 people have been arrested, charged or sentenced since the coup, and 500 are still in detention or have warrants outstanding, according to the AAPP.

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