The police in Myanmar opened fire on protesters in the city of Mandalay on Saturday, killing two people and wounding dozens, according to witnesses.
The shootings occurred as the authorities were trying to force workers back to their jobs at a local shipyard. They were among hundreds of thousands of workers across Myanmar who have walked off their jobs to protest the military’s Feb. 1 coup and its ouster of elected civilian leaders.
More than 1,000 demonstrators gathered at the shipyard to block the police, leading to a tense standoff that lasted much of Saturday afternoon. The authorities used water cannons, rubber bullets, tear gas, slingshots and ultimately live ammunition to break up the crowd, witnesses said.
At least 40 people were wounded, according to volunteer medics at the scene.
The shootings came one day after the death of another protester, a 20-year-old woman whom the police shot in the head at a demonstration in the capital, Naypyidaw, on Feb. 9. The woman, who was on life support before succumbing to her injury, is believed to have been the first person killed in the protests against the coup.
A volunteer with a local medical charity, Ko Kyaw Lin, said he had been helping rescue some of the wounded in Mandalay but could not get close enough to some of them because the police and soldiers were shooting at people in the crowd.
“When we picked up the patients on the street, they had been shot by a sniper,” he said. “They shot everyone no matter who they were.”
A video taken at the scene showed one man lying in a pool of blood, apparently dead from a gunshot wound to the head.
The Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, which has ruled the country for much of the past 60 years, staged a pre-dawn coup on Feb. 1, forcing out elected leaders and placing the head of the civilian government, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest.
The military also detained many leaders of her party, the National League for Democracy, including state chief executives and newly elected members of Parliament who were about to be sworn in. More than 500 political figures and critics of the military are now being held, many without charges.
The coup immediately prompted protests throughout the country and spurred a growing civil disobedience movement with widespread labor walkouts. Among the key targets of the work stoppages are key entities that help the military collect revenue, including tax offices, the government electricity ministry and private banks.