Buddhist monasteries are usually known as places of solace and meditation. But one in Myanmar’s biggest city became the site of an ugly brawl in the aftermath of the Feb. 1 military coup.

Monks were among a group that used slingshots to injure anti-coup protesters who went to Yangon’s Bingalar Monastery on Feb. 18 in pursuit of men dressed in robes who had earlier beaten up a demonstrator. The mob also used large sticks to smash cars blocking traffic nearby.

The monks and their supporters "couldn’t control their temper,” said Kaythara, the abbot of the nationalist Buddhist group Wirawintha, who knows the attackers but wasn’t present at the melee. He defended the military, known as the Tatmadaw, repeating its theory that now now-detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party stole the November election through mass voter fraud.