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Myanmar protests: BBC journalist Aung Thura detained

image captionThe BBC has asked the authorities to help locate Aung Thura

A reporter with the BBC Burmese service has been detained in Myanmar as clashes continue between security forces and protesters.

Aung Thura was taken away by men in plain clothes while reporting outside a court in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

The BBC said in a statement that it was extremely concerned and called on the authorities to help locate him.

At least eight people are reported to have died in the most recent protests, which took place in several cities.

Aung Thura was taken away with another reporter, Than Htike Aung, who works for the local news organisation Mizzima. Mizzima’s operating licence was revoked by the military government earlier this month.

The men who detained the journalists arrived in an unmarked van at around midday local time (05:30 GMT) on Friday and demanded to see them. The BBC has been unable to contact Aung Thura since.

“The BBC takes the safety of all its staff in Myanmar very seriously and we are doing everything we can to find Aung Thura,” the corporation said in a statement.

media captionThe BBC’s Mary Hockaday calls on authorities to help locate journalist Aung Thura, who has been detained

“We call on the authorities to help locate him and confirm that he is safe. Aung Thura is an accredited BBC journalist with many years of reporting experience covering events in Nay Pyi Taw.”

Forty journalists have been arrested since a military coup on 1 February, which saw the detention of elected civilian leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi. Sixteen are still in custody, and the military has revoked the licences of five media companies.

The eight people killed on Friday were shot dead by security forces in the central town of Aungban, according to a funeral director and local media.

“Security forces came to remove barriers but the people resisted and they fired shots,” a witness told Reuters news agency.

Reports from Yangon say the streets have been congested as many people try to flee violence in the country’s main city. Police there are also said to be forcing people to remove barricades put up by protesters.

Post-coup violence has claimed the lives of at least 232 Burmese, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group says. One of the bloodiest days was 14 March when 38 were killed.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionProtesters at barricades in Yangon’s Thaketa township on Friday

A joint statement by European Union embassies and those of the US and the UK condemned “the brutal violence against unarmed civilians by security forces”.

The statement called on the military to lift martial law, release detainees, end the state of emergency and restore democracy.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has meanwhile criticised the use of lethal force by the military and called for “a path towards peaceful solutions”.

He echoed a call by the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to hold a summit on the situation in Myanmar.

Myanmar profile

  • Myanmar became independent from Britain in 1948. For much of its modern history, it has been under military rule
  • Restrictions began loosening from 2010 onwards, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government led by veteran opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the following year
  • In 2017, Myanmar’s army responded to attacks on police by Rohingya militants with a deadly crackdown, driving more than half a million Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh in what the UN later called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”
  • Full country profile

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