Myanmar cops fire stun grenades; Southeast Asian ministers aim for talks

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    MYANMAR police opened fire to disperse protesters on Tuesday, witnesses said, as foreign ministers of neighboring countries were due to hold talks with the military in a bid to quell violence and find a way out of the crisis.

    The talks will come two days after the bloodiest day of unrest since the military removed Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government a month ago, unleashing anger and mass street protests across Myanmar.

    Protesters, many wearing hard hats and clutching makeshift shields, had gathered behind barricades in different parts of the main city of Yangon to chant slogans against military rule.

    “If we’re oppressed, there will be explosion. If we’re hit, we’ll hit back,” demonstrators chanted before police moved in firing stun grenades to scatter crowds in at least four different places in the city.

    There were no reports of any injuries in Yangon but several people were wounded in the northwestern town of Kale when police fired live ammunition to disperse a crowd, according to a democracy activist and a reporter in the town.

    “Several are injured, two are in critical condition,” activist War War Pyone said.

    Hospitals and police in the area could not be reached for comment. The military spokesmen did not answer telephone calls.

    At least 21 protesters have been killed since the turmoil began. The army said one policemen was killed.

    The coup on Feb. 1 halted Myanmar’s tentative steps towards democracy after nearly 50 years of military rule, and has drawn condemnation and sanctions from the United States and other Western countries, and growing concern among its neighbors.

    Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said his counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) would be frank when they meet by video call on Tuesday and will tell a representative of Myanmar’s military they are appalled by the violence.