YANGON: Explosions rocked Myanmar’s largest city Yangon on Saturday as protesters held flash marches for democracy, defying a brutal junta that has held onto power for three bloody months.
The country has been in turmoil since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, bringing an abrupt end to Myanmar’s short-lived experiment with democracy.
The power grab triggered a massive uprising which authorities have tried to quell with lethal force and live ammunition.
As Myanmar entered its fourth month under military rule on Saturday, protesters in commercial hub Yangon — an epicentre of unrest with a heavy security presence — staged flash demonstrations, marching rapidly through the streets to avoid confrontation with police and soldiers. The lightning-quick pace of the protests is “so that people will have time to disappear when the security forces come, or else they would die or get arrested”, said student activist Min Han Htet.
The state-run evening news said a woman was wounded in the Yankin blasts, which it blamed on “instigators”.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings that are taking place with increasing frequency in Yangon.
The former capital has utterly transformed since the junta seized power on February 1, with barricades erected in key protest hotspots, security forces on patrol, and residents reporting nighttime arrests of suspected dissidents.
Across the country, nearly 760 civilians have been killed in the anti-coup unrest, according to a local monitoring group, though the junta has recorded a far lower death toll. But the democracy movement remains undeterred, with demonstrators gathering Saturday in central Monywa city — a flashpoint for violence — carrying signs that said “Monywa cannot be ruled”.
The unceasing violence against protesters has drawn the ire of some of Myanmar’s myriad ethnic armies, many of which have been battling the military for decades in border regions.