Myanmar security forces storm town to tackle armed protesters

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Aung San Suu Kyi; Myanmar, Burma
Tens of thousands of protesters overcame a post-coup Internet blackout as they took to the streets of Myanmar's largest city for a second consecutive day on Sunday, demanding the release of deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Security forces stormed a town in northwestern Myanmar where some residents had used homemade hunting rifles to resist the military’s February seizure of power, killing at least seven civilians and injuring many others, local news reports said.

The online news site Khonumthung Burmese said the attack on Kalay began before dawn.

Videos on the site included what appeared to be sounds of rifle fire, high-calibre weapons and grenade explosions.

Posts on social media said rocket-propelled grenades were used in the attack, but provided no evidence.

The news site said that in addition to the seven fatalities, many people were wounded and arrested in the town, also known as Kalemyo.

Over half the town’s population are members of the Chin ethnic minority.

Security forces have killed at least 581 protesters and bystanders in their crackdown on protests against the February 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors casualties and arrests.

Nearly all of the protests have been nonviolent, but as police and soldiers have increased their use of lethal force, some participants have armed themselves with homemade weapons such as gasoline bombs for self-defence.

In Kalay, some residents took up simple but deadly homemade hunting rifles.

Myanmar Now, another online news site, reported on Tuesday that protesters in Kalay had set up neighbourhood strongholds and inflicted casualties on the security forces.

It said that on March 28, when the army sought to attack Kalay, protesters in the town and nearby villages put up fierce resistance.

The attack took place a day after the junta’s forces killed more than 110 people around the country, the highest single-day death toll since the coup.

The report said protesters “more than held their own.

“Four of them died that night, but so did an equal number of the enemy, including an officer or two.

“The protesters also managed to wound 17 of their heavily armed attackers.”

The protesters, who have organised themselves in a Kalay Civil Army, inflicted more casualties in the following days, it said.

Daily protests against military rule continued in other cities and towns, including Mogok in central Myanmar, and Bago, northeast of Yangon, where social media posts said security forces fired live ammunition at demonstrators.

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