Children among dead in Myanmar as security forces kill over 90 in ‘horrifying’ day of bloodshed

Security forces killed more than 90 people, including some children, across Myanmar on Saturday in one of the bloodiest days of protests since a military coup last month, news reports and witnesses said.

The lethal crackdown, which took place on Armed Forces Day, drew strong renewed criticism from Western countries. British Ambassador Dan Chugg said the security forces had “disgraced themselves” and the U.S. envoy called the violence horrifying.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leader, said during a parade to mark Armed Forces Day that the military would protect the people and strive for democracy.

State television had said on Friday that protesters risked being shot “in the head and back”. Despite this, demonstrators came out on the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other towns, as they have done almost daily since the Feb. 1 coup that ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Anti-coup protesters gesture with a three-fingers salute


Anti-coup protesters gesture with a three-fingers salute

The Myanmar Now news portal said 91 people were killed across the country by security forces.

At least 29 people, including a 13-year-old girl, were killed in Mandalay, and at least 24 people were killed in Yangon, Myanmar Now said. A boy as young as five was earlier reported among the dead in Mandalay but there were conflicting reports later that he may have survived. Another 13-year-old was among the dead in the central Sagaing region.

“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for CRPH, an anti-junta group set up by deposed lawmakers, told an online forum.

Meanwhile, one of Myanmar’s two dozen ethnic armed groups, the Karen National Union, said it had overrun an army post near the Thai border, killing 10 people – including a lieutenant colonel – and losing one of its own fighters.

A military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment on the killings by security forces or the insurgent attack on its post.

“They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our homes,” said Thu Ya Zaw in the central town of Myingyan, where at least two protesters were killed. “We will keep protesting regardless… We must fight until the junta falls.”

The deaths on Saturday would take the number of civilians reported killed since the coup to well over 400.

U.S. Ambassador Thomas Vajda said on social media: “This bloodshed is horrifying,” adding “Myanmar’s people have spoken clearly: they do not want to live under military rule.”

An annual parade is put on by the military to mark Armed Forces Day


An annual parade is put on by the military to mark Armed Forces Day


Credit: AFP

Dominic Raab, foreign secretary, said the killing of unarmed civilians and children marked a new low, while the EU delegation to Myanmar said Saturday would “forever stay engraved as a day of terror and dishonour.”

Mr Raab said: “Today’s killing of unarmed civilians, including children, marks a new low. We will work with our international partners to end this senseless violence, hold those responsible to account, and secure a path back to democracy.”

News reports said there were deaths in Sagaing, Lashio in the east, in the Bago region, near Yangon, and elsewhere. A one-year-old baby was hit in the eye with a rubber bullet.

Min Aung Hlaing, speaking at the parade in the capital Naypyitaw, reiterated a promise to hold elections, without giving any time-frame.

“The army seeks to join hands with the entire nation to safeguard democracy,” he said in a live broadcast on state television. “Violent acts that affect stability and security in order to make demands are inappropriate.”

The military has said it took power because November elections won by Suu Kyi’s party were fraudulent, an assertion dismissed by the country’s election commission. Suu Kyi remains in detention at an undisclosed location and many other figures in her party are also being held in custody.

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