Myanmar remains mired in violence 2 months after coup

Myanmar remains mired in violence 2 months after coup

Yangon: Protesters in Myanmar on Thursday marked two months since the military seized power by once more defying the threat of lethal violence and publicly demonstrating against the toppling of the democratically elected government.

The February 1 coup has been met with massive public resistance that security forces have been unable to crush through escalating levels of violence, including now routinely shooting protesters. Outside efforts including sanctions imposed by Western nations on the military regime have failed to help restore peace.

In Yangon, the country's biggest city, a group of young people shortly after sunrise Thursday sang solemn songs honoring the more than 500 protesters killed so far.

They then marched through the streets chanting slogans calling for the fall of the junta, the release of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the return of democracy.

Protests were also held in Mandalay and elsewhere.

The demonstrations followed a night of violence including police raids and several fires.

In Yangon, several retail shops owned in whole or part by Myanma Economic Holdings Limited, which is an investment arm of the military, went up in flames. The shops are the targets of boycotts by the protest movement.

The crisis in the Southeast Asian nation has expanded sharply in the past week, both in the number of protesters killed and with the military launching airstrikes against the guerrilla forces of the Karen ethnic minority in their homeland on the border with Thailand.

The UN special envoy for Myanmar warned the country faces the possibility of civil war.

That's a stark reversal for Myanmar, which prior to the coup had been making slow progress toward greater democracy following decades of brutal military rule.

In areas controlled by the Karen, more than a dozen civilians have been killed since Saturday and more than 20,000 have been displaced, according to the Free Burma Rangers, a relief agency operating in the area.

In addition to those deaths, an airstrike Tuesday on a gold mine in Karen guerrilla territory on Tuesday left as many as 11 more people dead, said a local news outlet and an NGO worker in touch with residents near the site.

Saw Kholo Htoo, the deputy director for Karen Teacher Working Group, said residents told him five people were killed at the mine and another six at a nearby village.

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