Dozens Wounded in Mayanmar Coppermine Protest

Security forces used water cannons, tear gas and smoke bombs to clear protesters from a copper mine in northwestern Myanmar, wounding villagers and Buddhist monks in the biggest use of force against demonstrators since the reformist government of President Thein Sein took office last year.

Monks and other protesters had serious burns after the crackdown at the Letpadaung mine near the town of Monywa. Protesters who oppose the mine’s impact on villagers and the environment had occupied the area for 11 days.

The police action risks becoming a public relations and political fiasco for Thein Sein’s government, which has been touting its transition to democracy after almost five decades of repressive military rule.

Photos of the wounded monks showed they had sustained serious burns on parts of their bodies. It was unclear what sort of weapon caused them, or whether the burns were caused by their shelters catching fire from whatever devices police used.