Security forces killed more than 90 people across Myanmar on Saturday in one of the bloodiest days of protests since last month’s military coup, according to press reports and witnesses.

The lethal repression took place on Armed Forces Day. Major General Min Aung Hlaing, leader of the junta, said during a parade in the capital Naypyitaw on the occasion of this event that the military would protect the people and fight for democracy.

State television said Friday that protesters were at risk of being shot “in the head and back.” Despite this, opponents of the February 1 coup took to the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other cities.

The Myanmar Now news portal claimed that the security forces killed 91 people across the country.

A boy who, according to local media, was only five years old, was among at least 29 people killed in Mandalay. At least 24 people died in Yangon, according to Myanmar Now.

“Today is a shameful day for the armed forces,” Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for CRPH, an anti-junta (military) group created by deposed lawmakers, said in an online forum.

Meanwhile, one of Myanmar’s two dozen armed ethnic groups, the Karen National Union, said it invaded 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 his post.

“They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our houses,” said Thu Ya Zaw in the central city of Myingyan, where at least two protesters were killed. “We will continue to protest despite everything … We must fight until the junta falls.”

Saturday’s deaths would bring the number of civilians reported killed since the coup to more than 400.

“This 76th day of Myanmar’s armed forces will be recorded as a day of terror and disgrace,” said the EU delegation in Myanmar. “The killing of unarmed civilians, including children, are indefensible acts.”

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

In Naypyitaw, Min Aung Hlaing reiterated the promise to hold elections, without giving any deadline.

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

The army justified it seized power because the November elections won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party were fraudulent, a claim dismissed by the country’s electoral commission.

Suu Kyi, elected leader and the country’s most popular civilian politician, is being held at an undisclosed location. Many other figures from his party are also in custody.

Smoke rises over Yangon’s Thaketa Township on March 27, 2021, as the security forces’ representation against those who oppose the military coup continues.

Russia, ‘a true friend’

In its warning on Friday night, state television said protesters were “in danger of being shot in the head and back.” It did not specifically say that security forces had received shoot-to-kill orders and that the junta had previously hinted that some deadly shootings occurred from the crowd.

International pressure on the junta increased this week with new US and European sanctions. However, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin attended the parade in Naypyitaw, having met with senior junta leaders a day earlier.

“Russia is a true friend,” said Min Aung Hlaing.

Diplomats said eight countries – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand – sent representatives, but Russia was the only one to send a minister.

Support from Russia and China, which it has also refrained from criticizing, is important to the board, as those two countries are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and may block possible UN actions.

Armed Forces Day commemorates the beginning of resistance to the Japanese occupation in 1945 and was orchestrated by the father of Suu Kyi, the founder of the armed forces.

The shots hit the American cultural center in Yangon on Saturday, but no one was injured and the incident is being investigated, US embassy spokeswoman Aryani Manring said.

Protesters have taken to the streets almost daily since the coup that derailed Myanmar’s slow transition to democracy.

General Yawd Serk, chairman of the Shan State Restoration Council / Shan State Army-South, one of the country’s ethnic armies, told Reuters in neighboring Thailand: people, I think all ethnic groups would not stand by doing anything. ‘

Author and historian Thant Myint-U wrote on Twitter: ‘A failed state in Myanmar has the potential to attract all the great powers, including the United States, China, India, Russia and Japan, in a way that could lead to serious international crisis (as well as an even bigger catastrophe in Myanmar itself). ‘

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