Riot police in Myanmar on Friday dispersed hundreds of anti-coup protesters who have demonstrated daily in the country's largest city against a junta that overthrew civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The country has seen a torrent of anger and defiance from hundreds of thousands of protesters who have gathered to call for the release of Suu Kyi and a return to democracy.

Fear and tension in Yangon as police clears protests

In some cities, the security forces have steadily increased the use of force, but in Yangon's commercial center, the authorities have acted sparingly, relying mainly on barricades and the presence of troops to avoid gatherings around checkpoints. reference of the city and embassies.

The protesters have bypassed the restrictions by moving fluidly through the city, organizing around the central crossings of Hledan and Myaynigone.

But on Friday, riot police advanced on protesters, most of them sitting and chanting pro-democracy slogans, and warned them to disperse.

At least two people were arrested after officers cleared the busy traffic artery.

One was a Japanese freelance reporter, Yuki Kitazumi.

"According to eyewitnesses, he was hit in the head with a baton but was wearing a helmet," his assistant Linn Nyan Htun posted on Facebook, adding that she had contacted the Japanese embassy.

A police officer denied that Kitazumi had been beaten, but confirmed that the journalist had been detained at a local police station and would be released after giving a statement.

Fear and tension in Yangon as police clears protests

On a smaller residential street in front of Myaynigone, some protesters set up makeshift barricades, using barbed wire and stacked tables, to stop the police.

Wearing helmets, the protesters shouted the usual anti-junta refrain: "The failure of the dictatorship is our cause, our cause!"

And at the top of the Hledan crossing, protesters ran off in alarm when police warned: "If people don't disperse, we will have to do it by force!"

A frightened protester ran into a nearby house to hide and told AFP that police had deployed stun grenades.

"We had to run," Nyo Hlaing told AFP, adding that some protesters retaliated by firing slingshot projectiles at police.

AFP reporters on the ground also heard the explosion of several stun grenades with a loud bang and saw the police arrest more people.

As the police searched some apartments, residents around Hledan protested by hitting pots and pans, an act of defiance against the military regime.

Back at the main traffic crossing, officers allowed buses and cars to pass.

Some passengers waved with three fingers, a symbol of resistance borrowed from the pro-democracy movement in neighboring Thailand.

High tensions

Tensions in Yangon are high, with many stirring after a pro-junta rally was allowed to move through the city center on Thursday.

Pro-military supporters carried slingshots, knives and pipes, which they used to attack people living near the site of their protest, according to anti-coup reporters and residents.

The state media blamed the confrontation on pro-democracy protesters.

On Thursday night, a Yangon township saw soldiers and police gather to break up a small demonstration against a council-appointed city manager, alarming residents who dispersed home to avoid arrests after the curfew of 8 pm.

State media reported on Friday that authorities had deployed stun grenades and fired actual rounds into the air to disperse protesters in Tamwe Township.

Twenty-three people "will face action in accordance with the law," he said.