YANGON/BANGKOK -- Defying a government ban on assemblies, hundreds and thousands of protesters across Myanmar marched on Tuesday to oppose the military coup, according to local media. Police fired rubber bullets and used water cannons in attempts to disperse the crowds.
It was the fourth day of protests, with tensions heightening, as the military ban on public assemblies was ignored. On Tuesday, the army announced an order to ban gatherings of more than five people in all major cities, including Yangon and Naypyitaw. It also imposed a curfew.
Reuters reported that in the capital of Naypyitaw, police fired warning shots to disperse crowds. In Yangon, soldiers stood by behind police.
Yet, demonstrations have gathered pace across Myanmar, as authorities step up the pressure on protesters. Anxieties about a crackdown are rising -- the army crushed pro-democracy movements in 1988 and 2007 by firing at civilians and monks on the streets.
In a Naypyitaw hospital, according to Reuters, a doctor said he was treating four wounded, possibly by rubber bullets fired by the police.
The police also used water cannons in Naypyitaw, Mandalay and Bago to disperse crowds. Local media reported that at least 27 people were arrested in Mandalay, including a reporter.
Tens of thousands of people gathered at the commercial hub of Hledan district in Yangon. At least six to seven military trucks were seen to be on standby behind police troops that lined the streets. Armed soldiers were also deployed to the scene.
A 28-year-old protester in Yangon said, "If I don't protest now, the military will take everything away from me. I'm afraid, but this is a fight to take back our country."
The protesters called on the police to join them. According to local media, several police officers in uniform did join the protests in Naypyitaw and Mandalay.
The military warned on Monday that it would "take legal action against any action that threatens the stability of the country, the security of the people and the rule of law." On Monday, in a first televised speech after the coup, Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing called protesters to "focus on the facts and not be carried away by emotions."