38 DEAD IN MYANMAR PROTESTS
Myanmar security forces opened fire Wednesday on protesters demonstrating against last month's military coup, leaving 38 people dead across the country, the U.N. special envoy on the Southeast Asian country said, marking a higher death toll than on any day since the military seized power, according to a report from Kyodo News.
Christine Schraner Burgener 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 exceeded 50.
At least 30 people were injured in Wednesday's shootings by security forces.
The latest death toll has surpassed the number of deaths in the bloody protests on Sunday.
Security forces have increasingly resorted to force 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 distance itself from criticizing the Myanmar military.
On Sunday, a crackdown by security forces also 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.