Myanmar security forces dramatically escalated their crackdown on protests against last month’s coup, killing at least 34 protesters Wednesday in several cities, according to accounts on social media and local news reports compiled by a data analyst. That is highest daily death toll since the Feb. 1 takeover, exceeding the 18 that the UN Human Rights Office said were killed on Sunday, and could galvanize the international community, which has responded fitfully so far to the violence. Videos from Wednesday also showed security forces firing slingshots at demonstrators, chasing them down, and even brutally beating an ambulance crew, the AP reports. The toll could even be higher; the Democratic Voice of Burma, an independent television and online news service, tallied 38 death
Demonstrators have regularly flooded the streets of cities across the country since the military seized power and ousted the elected government of leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Their numbers have remained high even as security forces have repeatedly fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and live rounds to disperse the crowds. The Wednesday death toll was compiled by a data analyst in Yangon who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared for his safety. According to his list, the highest number of deaths were in Yangon, which had 18. As part of the crackdown, security forces have also arrested hundreds of people, including AP journalist Thein Zaw. He has been charged with violating a public safety law that could see him imprisoned for up to three years.
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