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More Myanmar violence reported as activists seek help from ethnic groups

Published: Updated:

Myanmar security forces killed an anti-coup protester and wounded a toddler in fresh violence overnight, media reported on Monday, as activists called on armed ethnic groups in the diverse nation to back their struggle against military rule.

After the bloodiest day since last month’s military coup with 114 deaths on Saturday, security forces opened fire at a funeral on Sunday, witnesses said.

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Another 13 people were killed in other incidents over the weekend, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group on Sunday, taking its total toll of civilians killed since the Feb. 1 coup to 459.

In the town of Pathein in the Ayeyarwaddy region one man was shot dead by security forces on Sunday evening, DVB TV News reported on Monday.

Meanwhile, in the South Dagon area of the commercial hub of Yangon a one-and-half-year old toddler was hurt by gun fire, the Mizzima news portal reported.

Police and a junta spokesman did not answer calls seeking comment.

Armed ethic groups call for help

The General Strike Committee of Nationalities (GSCN), one of the main protest groups, in an open letter posted on Facebook urged armed ethnic groups “to collectively protect the people, youths, women, children and elders” who opposed military rule.

Heavy fighting has erupted between the army and some of the two dozen ethnic armed groups that control swathes of the country.

About 3,000 people fled to neighboring Thailand after military jets bombed areas controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU) militia near the border, an activist group and media said.

This handout from Free Burma Rangers released to AFP on March 29, 2021 shows residents seeking refuge in the jungle in eastern Myanmar's Karen state on March 28, 2021, after their area was targetted by air strikes when the Karen National Union (KNU), the Karen ethnic armed group seized a military base. (File photo: AFP)
This handout from Free Burma Rangers released to AFP on March 29, 2021 shows residents seeking refuge in the jungle in eastern Myanmar's Karen state on March 28, 2021, after their area was targetted by air strikes when the Karen National Union (KNU), the Karen ethnic armed group seized a military base. (File photo: AFP)

At least three civilians were killed on Saturday in an air attack by the military on a village controlled by the KNU, a civil society group said. The militia earlier said it had overrun an army post near the border, killing 10 people.

Fighting also erupted on Sunday between another armed group, the Kachin Independence Army, and the military in the jade-mining area of Hpakant in the north. The Kachin forces attacked a police station and the military responded with an aerial assault, Kachinwaves media reported.

There were no reports of casualties.

'Mass murder'

At least six children between the ages of 10 and 16 were among those killed across Myanmar on Saturday, according to news reports and witnesses. Protesters call the victims “Fallen Stars”.

On Sunday, mourners fled shooting by security forces at a service for 20-year-old student Thae Maung Maung in Bago near Yangon and there were no immediate reports of casualties, three people in the town told Reuters.

People in Mandalay surrounded a police station late in the evening on Sunday, accusing the security forces of arson after five houses burned down, residents said.

“While we are singing the revolution song for him, security forces just arrived and shot at us,” a woman called Aye who was at the service said. “People, including us, run away as they opened fire.”

UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar Tom Andrews said the army was carrying out “mass murder” and called on the world to isolate the junta and halt its access to weapons.

Foreign criticism and sanctions imposed by some Western nations have failed so far to sway the generals, as have almost daily protests around the country since the junta took power and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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

Countries including the US, Britain, Germany and the European Union again condemned the violence.

Protesters run during a crackdown on anti-coup protests at Hlaing Township in Yangon, Myanmar. (Reuters)
Protesters run during a crackdown on anti-coup protests at Hlaing Township in Yangon, Myanmar. (Reuters)

“It’s terrible, it’s absolutely outrageous,” US President Joe Biden told reporters in Delaware. “Based on the reporting I’ve gotten an awful lot of people have been killed totally unnecessarily.”

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, called on the generals to stand down from what he called a “senseless path” of violence against their own people.

The top military officer from the US and nearly a dozen of his counterparts said a professional military must follow international standards for conduct “and is responsible for protecting - not harming - the people it serves”.

Myanmar’s military took power saying that 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 in custody.

Read more:

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