At least three civilians have been killed and dozens injured in Myanmar after a military truck was caught on camera speeding towards a crowd and running down unarmed protesters.
The footage, shared widely on social media, showed a military vehicle ramming a group from behind at a protest in a Yangon township on Sunday. Dozens of people are seen running away in fear, with screams and gunfire heard during the 30-second clip.
Eleven people were arrested by the military following the attack, including two injured protesters. Local news outlet Myanmar Now reported that five protesters died at the protest.
The act was condemned by the US and UN, and called an “act of terror” on Twitter by the European Union’s external affairs spokesperson Peter Stano. Activist collective Justice for Myanmar also compared the act to past terrorist attacks involving cars ramming crowds in London, Nice, Barcelona, Stockholm and Berlin.
“Perpetrators of today’s heinous crime must be held accountable,” the group wrote on Twitter. “[The] international community must act to stop Myanmar military terror.”
Eyewitnesses told news agencies that the truck left three people “lying motionless” on the ground, with soldiers arresting protesters at the scene and firing at people fleeing.
“About five armed soldiers got out of the vehicle and chased after the protesters,” said one anonymous witness who spoke to the Associated Press. “They opened fire and also arrested young people who had been hit by the car. At least ten people were arrested.”
Another eyewitness told Reuters that protesters were rammed down mere minutes after the march had started.
“I got hit and fell down in front of a truck. A soldier beat me with his rifle but I defended and pushed him back. Then he immediately shot at me as I ran away in a zig-zag pattern. Fortunately, I escaped,” said one protester, who was not identified for security reasons.
More than 1,200 people have been killed since Myanmar’s military seized power from Aung San Suu Kyi’s government in a military coup on Feb.1. Sunday’s peaceful march was one of many held in Myanmar’s largest city Yangon, while rallies also took place in other cities ahead of Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial, the first of several politically motivated criminal cases being brought by the military against her.
The ousted leader was sentenced to four years in prison on Monday, convicted on charges of inciting unrest and violating COVID-19 restrictions during last year’s national elections. The military claims the elections were neither free nor fair.
A local journalist receives medical attention as an injured protester lies on a stretcher in Yangon. Photo: AFP
The military confirmed the arrests of 11 people, while a spokesperson for the junta said that it had “dispersed a rioting crowd”, but did not address the actions of the military vehicle.
In a statement published on its Facebook page, Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), a body made up of lawmakers ousted by the coup and which regards itself as the country’s legitimate representative, expressed its dismay at seeing peaceful protesters attacked.
“We will strongly respond to the terrorist military who brutally, inhumanly killed the unarmed peaceful protesters,” the NUG’s defence ministry wrote.
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