Tanks on streets of Myanmar city prompt US embassy warning

The US embassy in Myanmar has warned of “military movements” in the country’s main city, Yangon, and has said it expects the internet to be interrupted over the next 12 hours.

The warning came after the appearance on Sunday of three Tatmadaw armoured vehicles on the streets of the commercial capital and the site of major daily protests against the military’s coup on 1 February.

The expected outages, which have not been confirmed by the Norwegian telecommunications firm that runs the country’s communication grid, have raised fears of a possible crackdown overnight.

The US urged its citizens to “shelter-in-place” on Sunday evening local time after three armoured vehicles were sighted in the city for the first time since the 1 February military coup.

The embassy also said there was a “possibility of telecommunications interruptions overnight between 1am and 9am” (1830 to 0230 GMT).

The internet was blocked last Saturday as the protest movement was taking shape but restored after 24 hours.

Mostly young demonstrators have used the internet to organise, document their protests and capture the police response including firing rubber bullets at crowds and in some instances the use of live ammunition.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Myanmar’s major cities for a ninth day of anti-coup demonstrations on Sunday.

Security forces fired to disperse protesters outside a power plant in the northern state of Kachin, footage broadcast live on Facebook showed, although it was not clear if they were using rubber bullets or live ammunition.

Hundreds of people had gathered late on Sunday outside a power plant that soldiers had occupied in the city of Myitkyina. As darkness fell, riot police accompanied by troops arrived to drive away the crowds, the footage showed.

A convoy on motorbikes and in cars drove through the capital, Naypyidaw. In the south-eastern coastal town of Dawei, a band played drums in shadows cast by awnings as crowds marched under the hot sun. In Waimaw, on the banks of the Irrawaddy River in Kachin, crowds carried flags and sang revolutionary songs.

Many of the protesters nationwide held up images of Aung Sun Suu Kyi’s face. Her detention, on charges of importing walkie-talkies, is due to expire on Monday. Her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, could not be reached for comment.

More than 384 people have been detained since the coup, the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said, in a wave of mostly night-time arrests.

“While the international community is condemning the coup, Min Aung Hlaing is using every tool he has to instigate fears and instabilities,” activist Wai Hnin Pwint Thon from the UK-based rights group Burma Campaign UK said on Twitter, referring to the army chief.

Many protesters in Yangon carried signs calling to authorities to “stop kidnapping people at night”.


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