Protesters in Myanmar took to the streets again Thursday, one day after security forces shot dead 38 people in the deadliest day since the military seized power in a coup, local media reported.
Despite the escalation of violence and threat of death, protesters reportedly were out again in several cities, including the largest city Yangon, the second-largest city Mandalay and the capital Naypyitaw, but no deaths or injuries have been reported. Security forces used tear gas and gunfire to try to disperse the crowds, the media reported.
Also, in Mandalay, over a thousand people attended the funeral of a 19-year-old female protester who died Wednesday after being shot in the head, according to reports.
Meanwhile, Singapore's Foreign Ministry on Thursday advised its nationals to consider leaving Myanmar as soon as possible due to the rising violence and avoid travel to the country.
"In view of the rapidly escalating clashes between protesters and the Myanmar security forces and increasing number of civilian casualties in Myanmar, Singaporeans are strongly advised to defer all travel to Myanmar at this time," the ministry said in a statement.
Christine Schraner Burgener, the U.N. special envoy on the Southeast Asian country, on Wednesday called for coordinated efforts by the international community to increase pressure on the military regime to end the ongoing crackdown on protesters, as the cumulative death toll since the Feb. 1 coup has now exceeded 50.
Wednesday "was the bloodiest day since the coup happened," Burgener said at an online news briefing, adding that video footage appeared to show police using 9 mm submachine guns to fire live rounds.
Around 1,200 people have been detained in the country, leaving many of their families unsure where they are being held or whether they are in good health, she added.
Security forces have increasingly resorted to using violence against protesters who have gathered daily in the weeks following the coup that ousted the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
According to a diplomatic source, the U.N. Security Council is expected to hold a closed-door session Friday to discuss the Myanmar situation.
However, it remains unclear whether the Security Council can take a unified stance on the matter, as China, one of the five veto-wielding permanent members, continues to show reluctance to criticize the Myanmar military.
Regarding the reported deaths of 38 people, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman only said Thursday that Beijing is working to "ease and calm the situation" in Myanmar by contacting people in the country's various sectors.
"We are appalled and revulsed to see the horrific violence perpetrated against the people of Burma for their peaceful calls to restore civilian governance," U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a news briefing, using Myanmar's other name.
"We call on all countries to speak with one voice to condemn brutal violence by the Burmese military against its own people and to promote accountability for the military's actions that have led to the...loss of life of so many people in Burma."
On Sunday, a crackdown by security forces killed at least 18 demonstrators and wounded over 30 others around the country, according to a U.N. human rights agency.
Heightened tensions in a member country have spurred diplomatic efforts within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. ASEAN foreign ministers held a virtual meeting on Tuesday and called for a de-escalation of the Myanmar situation and dialogue to peacefully resolve the political crisis.
"We are concerned about the situation and demand the suppression of violence," the chairman's statement said.