(Reuters) – Anti-coup demonstrators in Myanmar fought back with handmade guns and firebombs against a crackdown by security forces in a town in the northwest but at least 11 of the protesters were killed, domestic media reported on Thursday.
Initially, six truckloads of troops were deployed to quell protesters in the town of Taze, the Myanmar Now and Irrawaddy news outlets said. When the protesters fought back with handmade guns, knives and firebombs, five more truckloads of troops were brought in.
Fighting continued into Thursday morning and at least 11 protesters were killed and about 20 wounded, the media said. There was no word of any casualties among the soldiers.
That would take the toll of civilians killed by security forces to over 600 since the junta seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). It had a toll of 598 dead as of Wednesday evening.
Taze is near the town of Kale, where at least 12 people were killed in a similar clash between troops and protesters on Wednesday, according to news media and witnesses. Security forces fired live rounds, grenades, and machine-guns on protesters who were demanding the restoration of Suu Kyi’s government, AAPP said.
“Taze, Kale have many hunters in the jungle,” said Hein Min Hteik, a resident of the region and a youth activist. “They have handmade firearms. And now they came out with their weapons in order to protect the locals, while the people were under attack by the junta.”
A spokesman for the junta could not be reached for comment.
“People will try to defend their own lives and their rights,” said a former government minister who is part of the CRPH, a group of lawmakers representing the ousted civilian government.
“People will not wait for CRPH to act,” the minister said in a video call with Reuters. “The CRPH cannot stop the possible armed resistance by the people, from the people.”The junta on Thursday arrested Paing Takhon, a model and actor who had spoken out against the coup, his sister told Reuters. In Yangon, the country’s biggest city, activists placed shoes filled with flowers to commemorate dead protesters.