Myanmar coup: Gunfire heard and troops seen on streetson February 14, 2021 at 5:48 pm

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Western embassies urge the Myanmar military to refrain from using violence against protesters.

Tanks on the streets on Yangon, 14 Februrary

image copyrightReuters

Automatic gunfire has been heard at a protest in northern Myanmar amid signs that the military is preparing a crackdown on opposition to the coup it carried out on 1 February.

Western embassies in Myanmar urged the military not to use violence as troops were reported on the streets of the largest city, Yangon.

Telecoms companies have been ordered to shut off the internet from 18:30 GMT.

The US advised its citizens in Myanmar to “shelter in place”.

Meanwhile, a statement signed by the European Union, United States and Britain said: “We call on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government.”

The coup in Myanmar (also known as Burma) removed the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Her party won a resounding victory at the election in November, but the military said the vote was fraudulent.

Ms Suu Kyi is now under house arrest. Hundreds of activists and opposition leaders have been detained.

At a protest in Kachin state, in the north, automatic gunfire could be heard as security forces clashed with anti-coup demonstrators in the city of Myitkyina. It was not clear whether rubber bullets or live rounds were being fired.

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In Yangon, there is a heavy military presence, reports the BBC’s South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head. Earlier on Sunday, armoured vehicles were seen on the streets for the first time since the coup.

Across the country, hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied against the military for the ninth day in a row.

Telecoms operators in Myanmar are advising their customers that they have been told to shut off internet services from 01:00 to 09:00 local time, Sunday into Monday (18:30 to 02:30 GMT).

An office of the US embassy in Yangon warned US nationals to stay indoors during curfew hours.

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On Saturday, the military said arrest warrants had been issued for seven prominent opposition campaigners and warned the public not to harbour opposition activists fleeing arrest.

Video footage showed people reacting with defiance, banging pots and pans to warn their neighbours of night-time raids by the security forces.

The military on Saturday also suspended laws requiring court orders for detaining people longer than 24 hours and for searching private property.

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  • Myanmar, also known as Burma, was long considered a pariah state while under the rule of an oppressive military junta from 1962 to 2011
  • A gradual liberalisation began in 2010, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government led by veteran opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the following year
  • In 2017, Rohingya militants attacked police posts, and Myanmar’s army and local Buddhist mobs responded with a deadly crackdown, reportedly killing thousands of Rohingya and burning villages. More than half a million Rohingya fled across the border into Bangladesh, and the UN later called it a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”
  • Aung San Suu Kyi and her government were overthrown in an army coup on 1 February following a landslide NLD win in November’s elections
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