At least 38 people were killed in Myanmar on Wednesday in what the UN described as the “bloodiest day” since the coup took place a month ago, the BBC is reporting.
Witnesses said security forces opened fire with rubber and live bullets.
UN envoy to Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener said there was shocking footage coming out of the country.
Reacting to Wednesday’s deaths, the UK called for a United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday, while the US said it was considering further action against Myanmar’s military.
The latest violence comes a day after Myanmar’s neighbours urged the military to exercise restraint.
Reports from inside Myanmar describe security forces opening fire on large crowds in a number of cities, including Yangon, with little warning.
Two boys, aged 14 and 17, were among those who were killed, Save the Children said. A 19-year-old woman was also said to be among the dead.
At least six people were reportedly shot dead during a protest in Monywa in central Myanmar. At least 30 others were wounded in the unrest, a local journalist told Reuters.
A volunteer medic told AFP news agency in Myingyan that at least 10 people had been injured there. “They fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds,” they said.
“They didn’t spray us with water cannon. With no warning to disperse, they just fired their guns,” one protester in the city told Reuters.
In Mandalay, a student protester told the BBC that demonstrators were killed near her house. “I think around 10am or 10.30am, police and soldiers came to that area and then they started to shoot at civilians. They didn’t give any warning to the civilians.
As world powers view Myanmar’s crisis with growing unease, the country’s military said it was ready to withstand sanctions and isolation after its coup,
Schraner Burgener has urged the UN to take “very strong measures” against the generals. The UN envoy warned of such punitive action in a conversation with Myanmar’s deputy military chief.
In response, “the answer was: ‘We have to learn to walk with only few friends’,” she told reporters in New York.
Wednesday’s violence left the US “appalled”, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. He told reporters: “We call on all countries to speak with one voice to condemn the brutal violence by the Burmese military against its own people.”
He urged China, historically a close ally of Myanmar, to bring its influence to bear on the country’s military.
The UN Security Council has voiced concern over the situation, but stopped short of condemning the coup because of opposition by Russia and China, who view the matter as an internal affair.