(Asian News Hub) – Myanmar security forces were seen firing slingshots at protesters, chasing them down, and even brutally beating an ambulance crew in a video showing a dramatic escalation of violence against opponents of last month’s military coup.
A UN official speaking from Switzerland said 38 people had been killed on Wednesday, a figure consistent with other reports though accounts are difficult to confirm inside the country. The increasingly deadly violence could galvanize the international community, which has responded fitfully so far.
‘Today was the bloodiest day since the coup happened on February 1. We have today only today 38 people died.
We have now more than 50 people who died since the coup started and more have been wounded,’ the U.N. special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, told reporters at UN headquarters on Wednesday.
Demonstrators have regularly flooded the streets of cities across the country since the military seized power and ousted the elected government of leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Their numbers have remained high even as security forces have repeatedly fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and live rounds to disperse the crowds, and arrested protesters en masse.
The intensifying standoff is unfortunately familiar in a country with a long history of peaceful resistance to military rule and brutal crackdowns. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in the Southeast Asian nation after five decades of military rule.
The Democratic Voice of Burma, an independent television and online news service, also tallied 38 deaths. A toll of at least 34 was compiled by a data analyst in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared for his safety.
He also collected information where he could on the victims’ names, ages, hometowns, and where and how they were killed, an effort he said he had made to honour those who were killed for their heroic resistance.
The Associated Press was unable to independently confirm most of the reported deaths, but several square with online postings.
According to the data analyst’s list, most were in Yangon, where 18 died. In the central city of Monywa, which has turned out huge crowds, eight deaths were reported. Three deaths were reported in Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, and two in Salin, a town in Magwe region. Mawlamyine, in the country’s southeast, and Myingyan and Kalay, both in central Myanmar, each had a single death.
As part of the crackdown, security forces have also arrested hundreds of people, including journalists. On Saturday, at least eight journalists, including Thein Zaw of The Associated Press, were detained. A video showed he had moved out of the way as police charged down a street at protesters, but then was seized by police officers, who handcuffed him and held him briefly in a chokehold before marching him away.
He has been charged with violating a public safety law that could see him imprisoned for up to three years.
The escalation of the crackdown has led to increased diplomatic efforts to resolve Myanmar’s political crisis but there appear to be few viable options. It’s not yet clear if Wednesday’s soaring death toll could change the dynamic.
The UN Security Council is expected to hold a closed meeting on the situation on Friday, council diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make the information public before the official announcement. The United Kingdom requested the meeting, they said.
Still, any kind of coordinated action at the United Nations will be difficult since two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia, would almost certainly veto it. Some countries have imposed or are considering imposing their own sanctions.
The U.N. special envoy, Schraner Burgener, who supports sanctions, said she receives some 2,000 messages per day from people inside Myanmar, many who are really desperate to see action from the international community.
The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes Myanmar, issued a statement after a teleconference meeting of foreign ministers Tuesday that merely called for an end to violence and for talks on how to reach a peaceful settlement. ASEAN has a tradition of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
Ignoring that appeal, Myanmar’s security forces have continued to attack peaceful protesters.
Afghanistan: 37 killed, over 70 injured as blast hits Shia mosque in Kandahar
(Asian News Hub) – Suicide bombers assaulted a Shiite mosque in southern Afghanistan that was packed with worshippers attending weekly Friday prayers, killing at least 37 people and wounding more than 70, Associated Press reported quoting hospital official and an eyewitness.
The attack on the Imam Barga mosque came a week after a bombing claimed by a local Islamic State affiliate killed 46 people at a Shiite mosque in northern Afghanistan.
Murtaza, an eye-witness who like many Afghans goes by one name, said four suicide bombers attacked the mosque. Two detonated their explosives at a security gate, allowing the other two to run inside and strike the congregation of worshippers.
Speaking to The Associated Press by phone, he said Friday prayers are typically attended by around 500 people.
At least 20 killed, over 300 injured in an earthquake in Pakistan
(Asian News Hub) – At least 20 people were killed and over 300 others injured after a powerful 5.9 earthquake struck Pakistan’s Balochistan province early on Thursday, October 7, 2021, according to PTI quoting media reports.
Disaster management officials said the death toll may increase, Geo News reported.
According to the seismological centre, the epicentre was located near Harnai at a depth of 15 km.
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said many of the dead were women and children.
The quake affected Quetta, Sibi, Harnai, Pishin, Qila Saifullah, Chaman, Ziarat and Zhob in Balochistan.
Images on social media showed people in the city of Quetta out on the streets in the aftermath of the quake, Dawn newspaper reported.
Aftershocks are still being felt in different areas. The earliest tremors were felt at 3:20 am after which panicked citizens rushed out of their houses reciting verses from the holy Quran. Relief and rescue activities are underway, with an emergency declared in all hospitals.
According to Deputy Commissioner of Harnai Sohail Anwar Hashmi, several people have been rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
He said that several buildings in Harnai have been damaged. Many people were left buried under the rubble.
The power supply to the area has been suspended, he said.
According to the rescue sources, more than 70 houses were reported damaged in Harnai.
World surpasses 5M COVID-19 deaths
(Asian News Hub) – The coronavirus death toll around the world surpassed 5 million on Friday, according to Reuters’s tally.
Around the world, an average of 8,000 deaths a day were reported, according to the outlet. However, it noted that the global death rate has slowed in recent weeks.
Reuters reported that it took over a year to accumulate 2.5 million deaths, but it took under eight months to accumulate the second 2.5 million deaths.
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