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Shots fired as Myanmar journalist live-streams police raid to detain him

(Reuters) - A Myanmar journalist live-streamed police shooting close to his apartment as they detained him in a crackdown on protesters against military rule.

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“Help, help. They’re shooting at me,” Kaung Myat Hlaing, a reporter for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), can be heard shouting in the video taken in the southern coastal town of Myeik.

The video is shot from a first-floor balcony, where clothes are drying on a line, as police shine a light from the street below and shout at him to come down. There is the sound of someone apparently pulling at the front door and then a puff of smoke appears on the balcony, accompanied by what sounds like gunfire.

The DVB news agency confirmed the detention of Kaung Myat Hlaing in a statement and called for his release, as well as the release of other detained journalists.

An officer who answered the telephone at the Myeik Township Police Station said news of the reporter’s detention had not been confirmed and hung up.

Six journalists have been arrested at protests in the main city of Yangon over recent days.

They have all been charged under a penal code section making it a crime to publish material that could cause a soldier or other service member “to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty”, Tin Zar Oo, a lawyer for an Associated Press journalist among the six, said on Tuesday.

The Associated Press called on Monday for the immediate release of journalist Thein Zaw.

The military overthrew the elected government on Feb. 1, detaining its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and others and unleashing street protests across the country.

The spokesman for the junta has not addressed the issue of the arrest of journalists in the protests and has not responded to telephone calls from Reuters seeking comment.

Many people have taken to live-streaming the protests and, increasingly, police efforts to disperse them.

The DVB said about half a dozen military and police cars surrounded its reporter’s street at about 10.30 p.m. on Monday, after protests in the town earlier in the day.

The DVB said it did not know what kind of guns or rounds were fired but it believed police were threatening the reporter, but not firing at him.

The coup halted Myanmar’s tentative steps towards democracy after nearly 50 years of military rule, and has drawn condemnation and sanctions from the United States and other Western countries, and growing concern among its neighbours.

The United States warned Myanmar’s military on Monday that it would take more action if security forces kill unarmed people and attack journalists and activists, which State Department spokesman Ned Price called “abhorrent violence”.

Reporting by Reuters staff; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Nick Macfie

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