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Cops fire on protesters in Myanmar killing at least 18 on deadliest day of anti-coup rallies

RIOT cops fired bullets, tear gas, water cannons and stun grenades at pro-democracy protestors in Myanmar killing at least 18 people, revealed the United Nations.

The UN's human rights office said it had received "credible information" that throughout Sunday state police fired live ammunition into crowds leading to multiple deaths and leaving dozens more injured.

Deaths were reported in cities including Yangon, Dawei and Mandalay leading to the highest single-day death toll among those demanding the restoration of Aung San Suu Kyi following a military coup.

"We strongly condemn the escalating violence against protests in Myanmar and call on the military to immediately halt the use of force against peaceful protesters," said UN spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.

Across the country, protesters wearing plastic work helmets and with makeshift shields faced-off with police and soldiers dressed head-to-toe in battle gear.

Social media footage showed protesters running away as police charged at them, makeshift roadblocks being erected, and several people being led away covered in blood.

"Severe action will be inevitably taken" against "riotous protesters", the state-run Global New Light Of Myanmar said. It added the army had previously shown restraint, but could not ignore "anarchic mobs".

Several of the wounded were hauled away in Yangon by fellow protesters, leaving bloody smears on pavements.

One man died after arriving at a hospital with a bullet in his chest, said a doctor who asked not to be identified.

"Police and military forces have confronted peaceful demonstrations, using lethal force and less-than-lethal force that according to credible information ....has left at least 18 people dead and over 30 wounded," the U.N. human rights office said.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the army seized power and detained Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership on Feb. 1, alleging fraud in a November election her party won in a landslide.

The coup, which brought a halt to tentative steps towards democracy after nearly 50 years of military rule, has drawn hundreds of thousands onto the streets and the condemnation of Western countries.

Among at least five killed in Yangon was internet network engineer Nyi Nyi Aung Htet Naing, medics said.

A day earlier he had asked on Facebook how many dead bodies it would take for the United Nations to take action.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on its members to do more.

"The Secretary-General urges the international community to come together and send a clear signal to the military that it must respect the will of the people of Myanmar as expressed through the election and stop the repression," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned what he called "abhorrent violence" by Myanmar security forces.

"We stand firmly with the courageous people of Burma & encourage all countries to speak with one voice in support of their will," Blinken said on Twitter, adding the United States "will continue to promote accountability for those responsible."

Outside a Yangon medical school, doctors and students in white lab coats scattered after police hurled stun grenades.

A group called the Whitecoat Alliance of medics said more than 50 medical staff had been arrested.

Police broke up protests in other towns, including Lashio in the northeast, Myeik in the deep south and Hpa-An in the east, residents and media said.

Junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing insisted last week that the authorities were using minimal force.

Nevertheless, at least 21 protesters have now died in the turmoil.

State-run MRTV television said more than 470 people were arrested on Saturday. It was not clear how many were detained on Sunday.

While some Western countries have imposed limited sanctions, the generals have traditionally shrugged off diplomatic pressure. They have promised to hold a new election but not set a date.

Suu Kyi's party and supporters said the result of the November vote must be respected.

Suu Kyi, 75, who spent nearly 15 years under house arrest, faces charges of illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios and of violating a natural disaster law by breaching coronavirus protocols.

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