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Eight Myanmar Protesters Reportedly Killed by Junta Forces

Policemen patrol in Yangon, Myanmar, March 19, 2021, as authorities arrested a spokesman for ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party intensifying efforts to choke off the spread of information about growing protests against military takeover.

Security forces in Myanmar fired live rounds and tear gas on coup protesters Friday, reportedly killing eight people in the central town of Aungban in the eastern Shan state.

The reported killings, and the arrests of several demonstrators in Aungban, occurred as protesters again took to the streets there and elsewhere, including the cities of Yangon and Mandalay, and the towns of Myingyan, Katha and Myawaddy, according to witnesses and media reports.

Seven protesters were shot dead and another shooting victim died after being taken to a hospital in the nearby town of Kalaw, according to Reuters, which cited an official with Aungban’s funerary service who declined to be identified.

Reuters also reported a demonstrator was killed in the northeastern town of Loikaw.

The military government did not immediately comment on the latest reported deaths.

The Associated Press is reporting that authorities have arrested a spokesperson for National League for Democracy, the party of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

There are also media reports and witness accounts that people are fleeing the country, as the crackdown has intensified, during which more than 230 people have been killed and about 2,000 arrested since the February 1 coup.

Developments in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, are becoming more difficult to confirm after authorities restricted the internet, which demonstrators use to organize and disseminate information.

Myanmar’s military arrested two journalists Friday in the capital of Naypyidaw while covering a court hearing for a detained member of Suu Kyi’s party.

VOA’s Burmese Service has identified the detained journalists as Aung Thura of the BBC and Than Htike Aung, a former reporter for Yangon-based Mizzima News.

At least 50 journalists have been arrested since the coup began, and more than 20 have been released. At least 20 others remain under arrest for inciting unrest, according to VOA’s Burmese Service.

The junta imposed martial law on six townships in Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial hub, effectively putting about 2 million people under direct control of the military.

The United States and other Western countries have condemned the coup and called for an end to the violence. They have also called for the release of Suu Kyi and other leaders arrested.