At least three people were seriously injured after hundreds of pro-military thugs attacked protesters in downtown Yangon this morning.
Hundreds of military supporters rushed a peaceful protest at about 9am near Yangon Railway Station, where people were banging pots and pans. The assaults used machetes, iron bars and slingshots, according to witnesses and video of the attack.
“They are just a few steps away from us,” said one protester, who did not want to be named for their safety. “I heard one of them yell at me, and then they attacked all the children and women with rocks and slingshots.”
Initial reports said at least three pedestrians had been badly injured in the melee.
Some saw evidence that the security forces conspired in the attack. Just before it began, police this morning were spotted removing barrels from around the protest area that had been erected yesterday and then using them to hem them in.
“When they arrived, the police removed the barrels. When we protested, they placed them to block our way. They are people and so we are. This isn’t fair, junta!” a 31-year-old protester told Coconuts who also did not want to be named out of fear for his safety.
Photos shared online appeared to show the assailants arriving in police vehicles.
And in a live broadcast by news outlet Mizzima, some local residents caught about 30 of the attackers and detained them in a community hall. Some of their registration cards identified them as army veterans.
“They arrived in our neighborhood around 9am this morning, and we gathered everyone to bang pots and pans to drive them away,” an unnamed resident told Mizzima. “ Then they started attacking us with bars, knives and slingshots. There was chaos, but we caught 30 of them with their weapons and payslips from the military.”
Another protester who was at the scene said she saw a thug attack a civilian with a knife in the middle of the street.
“He approached the person who was standing next to me and tried to stab him. I ran toward my car and locked the doors. Some of them were holding swords and slingshots. I felt very lucky”.
Footage taken from CCTV and tweeted by a reporter showed men, women, children and elderly citizens fleeing military thugs armed knives and metal bars. One person is seen at one point trying to defend against upward of 10 attackers.
Most of the attackers were seen wearing military green.
CHAOS: The security camera recorded the scene this morning the pro-military thugs stabbed the pedestrians and pro democracy protesters in downtown Yangon. #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/pGV2FC7C3c
— Mratt Kyaw Thu (@mrattkthu) February 25, 2021
He expressed shock that it had happened downtown in broad daylight.
“This is the CENTER, downtown of Yangon,” he wrote. “(Personally) I can’t even imagine this has just happened.”
In other news, Facebook yesterday said it had removed all of the military’s related pages and accounts from its platform for sharing false information.