UN: At least 18 killed by Myanmar forces in several cities

APTOPIX_Myanmar_25085 Protesters shout slogans as police arrive during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month's military takeover, deploying early and in force on Saturday as protesters sought to assemble in the country's two biggest cities and elsewhere.
Myanmar_80716 Protesters shout slogans during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city Yangon where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_43683 A protester wears a safety helmet and eye protector as he shouts slogans during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city Yangon where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_65416 Myanmar riot police with shield cross the blockages set up by protesters during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city Yangon where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_23481 Blockages are set up by protesters during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city Yangon where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_84073 Protesters stand behind the blockages set up during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city Yangon where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_84766 Protesters crossing a main street as police arrive during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month's military takeover, deploying early and in force on Saturday as protesters sought to assemble in the country's two biggest cities and elsewhere.
Myanmar_11084 Protesters rush to try to block the road as police arrive during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month's military takeover, deploying early and in force on Saturday as protesters sought to assemble in the country's two biggest cities and elsewhere.
Myanmar_38553 Protesters shout slogans during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city Yangon where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_82822 Myanmar riot police with shields move forward during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city Yangon where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_56082 Myanmar riot police with shields cross the blockages set up by protesters during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city Yangon where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_34746 Myanmar riot police with shield prepare to cross the blockages set up by protesters during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city Yangon where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_51491 Blockages are set up during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_41260 Protesters set up blockages during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_75243 Protesters hold shields during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_53930 Protesters set up blockages during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_28883 Protesters set up blockages during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_85077 Protesters shout slogans and flash three-finger salutes during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_88066 In this image from a video, anti-coup protesters react as smoke from tear gas rises in Yangon, Myanmar Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_89184 A wounded protester is carried during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Security forces in Myanmar used lethal force as they intensified their efforts to break up protests a month after the military staged a coup. At least four people were reportedly killed on Sunday.
Myanmar_29288 Myanmar riot police crossing blockage during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Security forces in Myanmar used lethal force as they intensified their efforts to break up protests a month after the military staged a coup. At least four people were reportedly killed on Sunday.
APTOPIX_Myanmar_60523 Protesters run as police fire tear gas during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Security forces in Myanmar used lethal force as they intensified their efforts to break up protests a month after the military staged a coup. At least four people were reportedly killed on Sunday.
Myanmar_40787 A protester throws a brick towards police during the protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Security forces in Myanmar used lethal force as they intensified their efforts to break up protests a month after the military staged a coup. At least four people were reportedly killed on Sunday.
Myanmar_95422 Protesters block a road during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month's military takeover, deploying early and in force on Saturday as protesters sought to assemble in the country's two biggest cities and elsewhere.
Myanmar_25752 Protesters block a main road during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month's military takeover, deploying early and in force on Saturday as protesters sought to assemble in the country's two biggest cities and elsewhere.
Myanmar_34864 Medicals students display images of deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a street march in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month's military takeover, deploying early and in force on Saturday as protesters sought to assemble in the country's two biggest cities and elsewhere.
Myanmar_69264 Students march during an anti-coup rally in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month's military takeover, deploying early and in force on Saturday as protesters sought to assemble in the country's two biggest cities and elsewhere.
Myanmar_69216 Students march during an anti-coup rally in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month's military takeover, deploying early and in force on Saturday as protesters sought to assemble in the country's two biggest cities and elsewhere.
Myanmar_Timeline_14609 This preview image of an AP digital embed shows a timeline with key events in Myanmar’s recent history.
Myanmar_65029 In this image from a video, medics attend to a man in a street in Dawei, Myanmar Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. The man appeared to be a wound in his upper chest. Medics held an oxygen mask to his face while calling out for an ambulance.
Myanmar_21121 Protesters shout slogans behind the blockages they set up during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city Yangon where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_23887 Myanmar riot police with shields move forward during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire Sunday in Myanmar's largest city Yangon where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks.
Myanmar_98886 Protesters shout slogans as police arrive during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month's military takeover, deploying early and in force on Saturday as protesters sought to assemble in the country's two biggest cities and elsewhere.
Myanmar_55337 Residents shout slogans and flash three-finger signs of resistance during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. Police in Myanmar escalated their crackdown on demonstrators against this month's military takeover, deploying early and in force on Saturday as protesters sought to assemble in the country's two biggest cities and elsewhere.
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YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Security forces in Myanmar opened fire and made mass arrests Sunday as they sought to break up protests against the military’s seizure of power, and a U.N. human rights official said it had “credible information” that at least 18 people were killed and 30 were wounded.

That would be the highest single-day death toll among protesters who are demanding that the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi be restored to power after being ousted by a Feb. 1 coup. About 1,000 people are believed to have been detained Sunday.

“Deaths reportedly occurred as a result of live ammunition fired into crowds in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myeik, Bago and Pokokku,” the U.N. Human Rights Office said in a statement referring to several cities, adding that the forces also used tear gas, flash-bang grenades and stun grenades.

An Associated Press journalist was taken into police custody on Saturday morning while providing news coverage of the protests. The journalist, Thein Zaw, remains in police custody.

The AP called for his immediate release.

“Independent journalists must be allowed to freely and safely report the news without fear of retribution. AP decries in the strongest terms the arbitrary detention of Thein Zaw,” said Ian Phillips, AP vice president for international news. The Foreign Correspondents Club of Myanmar also condemned the arrest.

The Democratic Voice of Burma reported that as of 5 p.m. in Myanmar, there had been 19 confirmed deaths in nine cities, with another 10 deaths unconfirmed. The independent media company broadcasts on satellite and digital terrestrial television, as well as online.

DVB counted five deaths in Yangon and two in Mandalay, the largest and second-largest cities.

It registered five deaths in Dawei, a much smaller city in southeastern Myanmar that has seen tens of thousands of protesters nearly every day since the coup. Witnesses said Sunday’s march was also large and people were determined not to be driven off the streets.

Confirming the deaths of protesters has been difficult amid the chaos and general lack of news from official sources, especially in areas outside Yangon, Mandalay and the capital of Naypyitaw. But in many cases, photos and video circulated showed circumstances of the killings and gruesome photos of bodies.

The independent Assistance Association of Political Prisoners reported it was aware that about 1,000 people were detained Sunday, of whom they were able to identify 270. That brought to 1,132 the total number of people the group has confirmed being arrested, charged or sentenced since the coup.

Gunfire was reported almost as soon the protests began Sunday morning in Yangon, as police also fired tear gas and water cannons while trying to clear the streets. Photos of shell casings from live ammunition used in assault rifles were posted on social media.

Initial reports on social media identified one young man believed to have been killed. His body was shown in photos and videos lying on a sidewalk until other protesters carried him away.

In Dawei, local media reported at least three people were killed during a protest march, supported by photos and video. Photos on social media showed one wounded man in the care of medical personnel.

Before Sunday, there had been eight confirmed reports of killings linked to the army’s takeover, according to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the crackdown, calling the use of lethal force against peaceful protesters and arbitrary arrests “unacceptable,” and expressed serious concern at the increase in deaths and serious injuries, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“The secretary-general urges the international community to come together and send a clear signal to the military that it must respect the will of the people of Myanmar as expressed through the election and stop the repression,” Dujarric said.

U.S. officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken also condemned the violence. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan issued a statement saying the U.S. is “alarmed” by the violence and stands in solidarity with Myanmar people “who continue to bravely voice their aspirations for democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.”

Washington has imposed sanctions on Myanmar because of the coup, and Sullivan said it would “impose further costs on those responsible,” promising details “in the coming days.”

The Feb. 1 coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy after five decades of military rule. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party would have been installed for a second five-year term in office, but the army blocked Parliament from convening and detained her and President Win Myint, as well as other top members of Suu Kyi’s government.

On Sunday morning, medical students marched in Yangon near the Hledan Center intersection, which has become the gathering point for protesters who then fan out to other parts of the city.

Videos and photos showed protesters running as police charged at them, and residents setting up makeshift roadblocks to slow their advance. Some protesters managed to throw tear gas canisters back at police. Nearby, residents were pleading with police to release those they picked up from the street and shoved into police trucks to be taken away. Dozens or more were believed to be detained.

“The world is watching the actions of the Myanmar military junta, and will hold them accountable,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch. “Live ammunition should not be used to control or disperse protests and lethal force can only be used to protect life or prevent serious injury.”

Security forces began employing rougher tactics on Saturday, taking preemptive actions to break up protests and making scores, if not hundreds, of arrests. Greater numbers of soldiers also joined police. Many of those detained were taken to Insein Prison in Yangon’s northern outskirts, historically notorious for holding political prisoners.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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