– ‘We are firing bullets’ –
One soldier shouted at protesters to “leave the streets”, warning that they were not just going to fire water cannon, but guns. “We are firing water, we are firing bullets,” he shouted.
Before the coup attempt the army was seen by many protesters as being more neutral than the police – often standing between demonstrators and the police – and some soldiers were unhappy at the force’s role.
“We are not there to shoot people,” one said.
At least 20 people died in several weeks of street battles with security forces before the demonstrations ended when generals launched a failed coup attempt last week.
Nininahazwe called for a “peaceful march,” saying that protesters had “conquered fear” and that the numbers would grow in size in coming days.
When the army fired shots into the air, protesters reacted by lying down on the ground, raising their hands in the air and singing the national anthem.