April 3 (UPI) — Myanmar forces killed at least six civilians in protests Saturday amid an Internet shutdown, participants and observers said.
Military police opened fire on a crowd of protesters early Saturday morning in Monywa, Sagaing region, killing three civilians, bringing the total of number of people killed in the region since the Feb. 1 coup to at least 20 people, The Irrawaddy reported.
The junta killed another two civilians at an anti-coup protest in Thaton, Mon state, where residents said at least 20 young people were arrested, according to the newspaper. The regime also shot a bystander when they randomly opened fire from a monastery where they established a base near Bago.
“When police and soldiers sprayed bullets into the crowd, young people from the defensive team fought back. They tried to deter them from entering our neighborhoods. But we lost three people in the early morning,” Ko Wai Moe Naing, a leading member of the Monywa general strike committee, told The Irrawaddy.
Another 26-year-old man died at his home Saturday afternoon from an abdominal injury sustained when security forces in Kale, Sagaing, shot him during an anti-coup protest on March 1, the newspaper added.
To date, the junta has killed 557 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
The latest deaths come amid the junta shutting down Internet service across the country until further notice since Thursday night, the AAPP noted in a report Friday. The military had previously imposed nightly Internet shutdowns for 47 consecutive nights and disabled mobile data for 18 days.
Local wireless broadband Internet services told Voice of America the Ministry of Transport and Communications ordered the shutdown.
The majority of customers in Myanmar use these wireless services to connect to the Internet, while fewer people use physical connections to access the web, CNN reported.
On Wednesday, United Nations Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener said in a statement that the military coup’s systemic attacks on civilians warrant a “firm, unified and resolute international response.”
Burgener urged the U.N. Security Council to help restore civilian rule of the elected government headed by President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, both of whom were detained in the coup.
The U.N. special envoy warned in the statement that the “ground situation will only worsen,” meaning “a bloodbath is imminent.”
“We have stood by too long as patterns of human rights violations and most serious international crimes committed by the Myanmar military have recurred,” Burgener added. “This Council must consider potentially significant action that can reverse the course of events in Myanmar.”