CNN was unable to independently confirm the number of people killed.
The deadly crackdown took place on the Day of the country’s armed forces. General Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the junta, said during a parade in the capital Naypyitaw to mark the event that the military would protect the people and fight for democracy, Reuters reported.
State television said on Friday that the demonstrators risked being shot “in the head and in the back”. Despite this, protesters against the February 1 coup have taken to the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other cities.
The United Nations office in Myanmar condemned the violence on Saturday in a strongly worded statement.
“The United Nations in Myanmar is horrified by the needless loss of life today with reports of dozens of people shot dead by the military across the country in the bloodiest day since the coup.” , said the office.
“The violence is completely unacceptable and must end immediately. Those responsible must be held to account.
“As Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener said, ensuring peace and defending the people should be the responsibility of any army, but the Tatmadaw has turned against its own people.” The Tatmadaw is the official name of Myanmar’s armed forces.
According to the latest count from the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 328 people have been killed in Myanmar since the February 1 military coup.
A boy reported by local media to be as young as five was among at least 29 people killed in Mandalay. At least 24 people have been killed in Yangon, Myanmar Now said, according to Reuters.
“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” said Dr Sasa, spokesperson for CRPH, an anti-junta group created by ousted lawmakers, in an online forum.
Meanwhile, one of Myanmar’s two dozen ethnic armed groups, the Karen National Union, said it raided an army post near the Thai border, killing 10 people – including a lieutenant. colonel – and losing one of his own fighters, Reuters reported.
A military spokesperson did not respond to calls from the news agency asking for comment on killings by security forces or the insurgent attack on his post.
“They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our homes,” Thu Ya Zaw said in the central town of Myingyan, where at least two protesters were killed, according to Reuters. “We will continue to protest despite everything … We must fight until the junta falls.
“ Day of terror and dishonor ”
The United States Embassy in Myanmar joined the European Union and United Kingdom embassies in condemning the killings by security forces in Myanmar on Saturday and calling for an end to the violence.
“On Myanmar Armed Forces Day, security forces murder unarmed civilians, including children, the very people they have sworn to protect. This bloodshed is horrible, ”Thomas Vajda, US Ambassador to Myanmar, said in a statement.
“These are not the actions of a military force or professional police. The people of Myanmar have made it clear: they do not want to live under military rule,” he added.
“This 76th day of the Burmese armed forces will be remembered as a day of terror and dishonor,” said the EU delegation in Myanmar. “The killing of unarmed civilians, including children, is an indefensible act.”
Reports cited by Reuters indicated that there had been deaths in the central Sagaing region, Lashio in the east, in the Bago region, near Yangon and elsewhere. A one-year-old baby was hit in the eye by a rubber bullet.
In Naypyitaw, Min Aung Hlaing reiterated his promise to hold an election without giving a deadline, Reuters reported.
“The military is seeking to join with the entire nation in safeguarding democracy,” he said on a live broadcast on state television. “Violent acts that affect stability and security to make demands are inappropriate.”
The military said it took power because the November elections won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party were fraudulent, a claim rejected by the country’s election commission.
Suu Kyi, the elected leader and the most popular civilian politician in the country, is still being held in an unknown location. Many other personalities of his party are also placed in detention.
Russia “ a true friend ”
In its warning on Friday night, state television said the protesters “risked being shot in the head and in the back.” He did not specifically say that the security forces had been ordered to shoot to kill and the junta had previously suggested that fatal shots were coming from the crowd.
International pressure on the junta has increased this week with new US and European sanctions. But Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin attended the parade in Naypyitaw, after meeting with senior junta leaders a day earlier, Reuters reported.
“Russia is a true friend,” said Min Aung Hlaing.
Diplomats told Reuters that eight countries – Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand – had sent representatives, but Russia was the only one to send a minister .
The support of Russia and China, which also refrained from criticism, is important for the junta as both countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council and can block potential UN actions.
Armed Forces Day commemorates the beginning of resistance to the Japanese occupation in 1945, orchestrated by the father of Suu Kyi, the founder of the army.
Gunfire hit the American Cultural Center in Yangon on Saturday, Reuters reported, but no one was injured and the incident is under investigation, the US embassy spokesman said, Aryani Manring.
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 / South Shan State Army, one of the country’s ethnic armies, told Reuters in neighboring Thailand: “If they continue shooting at protesters and intimidating people, I think not all ethnic groups would just sit idly by and do nothing. “
Author and historian Thant Myint-U wrote on Twitter: “A failed state in Myanmar has the potential to attract all the major powers – including the United States, China, India, Russia and the United States. Japan – in a way that could lead to a serious international crisis (as well as an even greater catastrophe in Myanmar itself). “
CNN’s Eleanor Pickston and Richard Roth contributed to this report.
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