File photo Photograph:( Reuters )
More than 80 have been killed so far
At least 18 anti-coup protesters were killed on Sunday that proved to be one of the deadliest days since the protests began. More than 80 have been killed after Myanmar military's crackdown so far. But the number is expected to increase dramatically after Sunday's tally.
Myanmar military grabbed power in the country on February 1 by toppling government headed by Aung San Suu Kyi. In response, a group of elected MPs, many of whom are in hiding, have formed a shadow "parliament" called the Committee for Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) -- the Burmese word for the country's governing bloc -- to denounce the military regime.
They issued a statement Sunday saying protesters had the "full right to defend themselves" under the country's penal code against security forces who are "harming and causing violence".
Soldiers and police have in recent weeks been staging near-daily crackdowns against demonstrators calling for a return to democracy -- deploying tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds to quell anti-coup protests.
In Yangon's massive Hlaing Tharyar township, police and soldiers faced off against protesters wielding sticks and knives as they hid behind makeshift barricades, fleeing after the security forces opened fire.
Protesters -- using cut-out trash cans as shields -- managed to retrieve the injured, but a doctor said not all could be reached.
"I can confirm 15 have died," the doctor told AFP, adding that she had treated about 50 people with injuries and expects the death toll to climb.
"I cannot talk much -- injured people keep coming," she said before hanging up.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group -- which verifies arrests and fatalities since the coup -- confirmed a higher death toll.
Throughout the day, gunshots were heard continuously by residents hiding in their homes as smoke rose above the streets, while military trucks were sighted driving through Hlaing Tharyar's streets.
(With AFP inputs)