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Australia condemns 'day of shame' as scores killed by Myanmar troops

More than 100 people have been killed in the deadliest day since last month’s coup. Australia’s military chief joined the international condemnation.

“The killing of unarmed civilians, including children, are indefensible acts,” it said.

British ambassador Dan Chugg said the security forces had “disgraced themselves”, and the US envoy called the violence horrifying.

Military jets also launched air strikes on a village in territory controlled by an armed group from the Karen ethnic minority and at least two people were killed, a civil society group said.

Earlier, 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 as tensions with the military surged after years of relative peace.

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.

Demonstrators turned out on Saturday in Yangon, Mandalay and other towns, as they have done almost daily since the February 1 coup that ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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The worst bloodshed since the coup occurred on Armed Forces Day, when troops paraded in the capital. AP

The online news site Myanmar Now reported late Saturday that the death toll had reached 114. A count issued by an independent researcher in Yangon who has been compiling near-real time death tolls put the total at 107, spread over more than two dozen cities and towns. That is more than the previous high on March 14, which ranged from 74 to 90.

At least 40 people, including a 13-year-old girl, were killed in Mandalay, and at least 27 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.

A military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment on the killings by security forces, the air strikes 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.”

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The deaths on Saturday would take the number of civilians reported killed since the coup to more than 440.

US 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”.

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab 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”.

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.

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“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 Ms Suu Kyi’s party were fraudulent, an assertion dismissed by the country’s election commission. She remains in detention at an undisclosed location and many other figures in her party are also in custody.

With AP

Reuters

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