Dozens killed as security forces open fire in Myanmar’s deadliest day of protest


More than 90 people were reportedly killed on Saturday by security forces across Myanmar, on the deadliest day of protests since last month’s military takeover of the country.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group has confirmed that among those killed were children.

The high death toll came as the country’s military leaders celebrated Armed Forces Day with a parade in the country’s capital.

“They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our homes,” resident Thu Ya Zaw told Reuters news agency in the central town of Myingyan.

“We will keep protesting regardless.”

International reaction came fast as the US, UK and EU officials condemned the violence, with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab calling it a “new low”.

The AAPP said the death toll was continuing to rise and the latest violence took the number killed in the suppression of protests in Myanmar since the 1 February coup to more than 400.

State TV aired an announcement the previous evening saying people “should learn from the tragedy of earlier ugly deaths that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back”.

Security forces were out in strength on Saturday trying to prevent rallies while Images shared on social media showed people with gunshot wounds and families mourning.

The director of the Burma Human Rights Network in UK told the BBC the military had shown it had “no limits, no principles”.

Violent crackdowns using live ammunition were reported in more than 40 locations across the country.

Local news site Myanmar Now put the death toll at 114, while the United Nations said it was receiving reports of “scores killed” and hundreds more injured.

The AAP said among the fatalities was a 13-year-old girl who was shot dead inside her home.

In the main city Yangon, gunshots were fired at the US cultural centre on Saturday. The US embassy said those shots caused no injuries.

Witnesses and sources told BBC Burmese of protester deaths in the cities and townships of Magway, Mogok, Kyaukpadaung and Mayangone.

Deaths were also reported in Yangon and on the streets of the second-largest city Mandalay, where protesters carried the flag of the NLD and gave their now traditional anti-authoritarian three-finger salute.

Meanwhile, an ethnic armed group in eastern Myanmar said military jets had targeted territory it controls. The strike was launched hours after the group, called Karen National Union, said it had overrun an army post near the Thai border.

It came amid rising tensions between the group and the military after years of relative peace.

The killings in Myanmar drew international condemnation.

The US embassy said security forces were “murdering unarmed civilians”, while the EU delegation to Myanmar said the 76th Armed Forces Day would “stay engraved as a day of terror and dishonour”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply shocked”.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Asia, described the scenes as “shocking, horrible, barbaric and unacceptable”.

The military meanwhile has not commented on the killings. In an Armed Forces Day TV address, coup leader Min Aung Hlaing said the army wanted to “join hands with the entire nation to safeguard democracy”.

“Violent acts that affect stability and security in order to make demands are inappropriate,” he said.

He added that the army had to seize power because of “unlawful acts” by democratically-elected leader Ms. Suu Kyi and her party. (Source: BBC)