Eyewitnesses and international observers say Myanmar security forces opened fire with live ammo on anti-coup protesters in multiple locations Wednesday, killing over 30 people and wounding dozens more.
By day's end, the Associated Press tallied at least 33 people killed, also amid a near total internet blockage to the country imposed by the military government. This makes Wednesday the highest daily death toll since the coup began at the start of February, bringing the total killed to 60.
JUST IN: Staying true to form, #Myanmar military authorities cut Internet for 18th consecutive night, reports @netblocks .— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) March 3, 2021
33 people were killed by security during day (AP), and now a digital crackdown at night: https://t.co/UthNgKLgat
"Myanmar security forces dramatically escalated their crackdown on protests against last month’s coup, killing at least 33 protesters Wednesday in several cities, according to accounts on social media and local news reports compiled by a data analyst," the AP recorded.
Opposition activists who are in the streets defying a junta-imposed 'state of emergency' and curfew, which includes a ban on crowds, are describing it as an "massacre" even at a moment neighboring countries are urging "restraint" by military authorities.
"The security forces resorted to live fire with little warning in several towns and cities, witnesses said, as the junta appeared more determined than ever to stamp out protests against the Feb. 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi," Reuters reports.
Eyewitnesses further say that in many cases what starts off as standard riot control measures commonly used by police like water canons and tears gas are increasingly and without warning turning to gun fire:
In the central town of Myingyan, where one teenaged boy was killed, protest leader Si Thu Maung, told Reuters police initially fired tear gas and stun grenades but quickly opened fire.
"They didn’t spray us with water cannon, no warning to disperse, they just fired their guns," he said.
The heaviest toll was in another central town, Monywa, where five people - four men and one woman - were killed, said Ko Thit Sar, editor of the Monywa Gazette.
This comes after a particularly deadly weekend. The UN Human Rights Office on Sunday cited at least 18 people killed - mostly believed by police and military gunfire - on crowds of pro-democracy protesters demanding an immediate restoration of elected civilian rule.
Graphic scenes of people being gunned down in the streets have been increasing on social media particularly in the past days...
"Deaths reportedly occurred as a result of live ammunition fired into crowds in Yangon, Dawei, Mandalay, Myeik, Bago and Pokokku,” the UN agency said in reference to unrest in several cities.
Police and 77th LID soldiers broke up a protest at Yangon's North Okkalapa roundabout with teargas and rubber bullets at 10:30am. Frontier saw police beat protesters and arrest 10. From hiding, our reporter saw police kick and drag this wounded protester#WhatsHapppeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/TONAebV5a5— Frontier Myanmar (@FrontierMM) March 3, 2021
"We strongly condemn the escalating violence against protests in Myanmar and call on the military to immediately halt the use of force against peaceful protesters," the statement added.
In some cases there appears to be instances of summary executions happening in the streets amid the unrest; however, much of the avalanche of social media videos coming out of the country can't be verified.
So far the Biden administration has slapped sanctions on select military coup leaders, while also saying the US "stands with the people" of Myanmar, which it still officially calls Burma.