Security forces in Myanmar deployed with armoured vehicles in major cities and cut internet access on Monday after protests over this month’s coup and the detention of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi drew hundreds of thousands onto the streets.
Suu Kyi’s detention on charges of illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios is due to expire on Monday. Her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, could not be reached for comment on what was set to happen.
Police opened fire to disperse protesters at a power plant in northern Myanmar on Sunday during a ninth day of anti-coup demonstrations against the February 1 coup, which derailed the Southeast country’s tentative transition to democracy.
As well as mass protests around the country, the military rulers are facing a strike by government workers, part of a civil disobedience movement that is crippling many of the functions of government.
Soldiers were deployed to power plants in the northern state of Kachin, leading to a confrontation with demonstrators, some of whom said they believed the army intended to cut off the electricity.
The security forces fired to disperse protesters outside one plant in Kachin’s state capital Myitkyina, footage broadcast live on Facebook showed, although it was not clear if they were using rubber bullets or live fire.
On Sunday evening, armoured vehicles appeared in the commercial capital of Yangon, Myitkyina and Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, the first large-scale rollout of such vehicles across the country since the coup.
On Monday, more than a dozen police trucks with four water cannon vehicles were deployed near the Sule Pagoda in Yangon, which has been one of the main centres for protests in the commercial capital.
The government and army could not be reached for comment.
Shortly after midnight, residents in Myanmar reported an internet outage. All four telecommunications networks were inaccessible from about 1am on Monday (1830GMT), they said. In the early days after the coup, the internet was cut across the country.