Home World News Dozens die in Myanmar protests as coup leaders mark Armed Forces Day

Dozens die in Myanmar protests as coup leaders mark Armed Forces Day

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Dozens of protesters have reportedly been shot dead in Myanmar as they defied warnings and a show of strength by leaders of the country’s coup.

Local media reports say up to 90 have been killed, although the numbers are difficult to confirm.

Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing earlier used an Armed Forces Day TV address to pledge elections but gave no timetable.

The latest deaths would take the number killed in the suppression of protests since February’s coup beyond 400.

State TV had warned in a separate broadcast on Friday that people “should learn from the tragedy of earlier ugly deaths that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back”.

The latest reports of deaths from news outlets The Irrawaddy and Myanmar Now would make this the bloodiest day since the protests began.

Myanmar Now set out a tally of 91 deaths in 40 towns across the nation by 16:30 local time (10:00 GMT).

The Irrawaddy’s latest report tells of 59 deaths, including three children, across 28 locations.

The anti-coup activists had called for major demonstrations on Saturday, despite the military’s threat to use deadly violence against them.

Security forces were out in strength trying to prevent rallies, particularly in Yangon, where gunshots were fired at the US cultural centre. The US embassy said those shots caused no injuries, but condemned Myanmar’s military for “murdering unarmed civilians”.

Among the dead were four outside a police station in the Dala suburb of Yangon, Myanmar Now reported.

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

Deaths were also reported on the streets of the second-largest city Mandalay, as protesters carried the flag of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Myanmar’s detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and gave their now traditional anti-authoritarian three-finger salute.

One journalist told AFP news agency police had used live ammunition against protesters in the north-eastern city of Lashio.

The EU delegation to Myanmar said: “This 76th Myanmar Armed Forces day will stay engraved as a day of terror and dishonour. The killing of unarmed civilians, including children, are indefensible acts.”

Dr Sasa, a spokesman for anti-junta group CRPH, told Reuters this was “a day of shame for the armed forces”.

“The army seeks to join hands with the entire nation to safeguard democracy,” Min Aung Hlaing said in his live broadcast on Saturday.

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

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

-BBC

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