The United Nations and the U.S. have condemned Myanmar’s military for shooting and killing five people as they took part in the annual Yangon Day protest.
Thousands of people took part in the demonstration this week in the country’s largest city, sparking security concerns after a week of major political unrest.
On Thursday, demonstrators clashed with police and the military reportedly opened fire, killing five. Myanmar police spokesman Colonel Myo Thu Soe said four civilians and one soldier were killed while a fifth soldier had been injured.
Video footage showed a shot ring out and what appeared to be people lying on the ground and being treated by medics.
The protest, organized by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), comes during a period of political uncertainty in the country, following violent clashes between Buddhist nationalists and Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley have both condemned the use of deadly force by security forces in Myanmar.
“The Secretary-General condemns the use of excessive force by authorities in Yangon and Wa State, including the deadly shooting of protesters,” the U.N. said in a statement, referring to the two nearby areas where Wednesday’s protest took place.
The U.S. also criticized the shooting.
“We strongly condemn today’s attempted dispersal of hundreds of peacefully protesting Buddhist nationalists by Myanmar security forces who injured several people and killed at least five others,” a U.S. official said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.