YANGON: More than 100 people were killed Saturday in Myanmar as the military junta backed by police continued a brutal, countrywide crackdown on pro-democracy protesters on Armed Forces Day, marking the deadliest day of protests since February 1 military coup, VOA reported.
The Myanmar Now news site reported late Saturday a nationwide death toll of at least 114, with at least 29 people killed in the northern city of Mandalay, including a boy as young as 5 years old. The Associated Press cited a Yangon-based independent researcher who put the death toll at 107 — both numbers exceeding a previously reported high of 90 killings on March 14.
According to news wires, security forces also killed civilians in the central Sagaing region, the eastern town of Lashio, the south-central region of Bago, near Yangon, and in other parts of the country.
“They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our homes,” said Thu Ya Zaw, a resident of the central town of Myingyan, where at least two protesters were reportedly killed. “We will keep protesting regardless. We must fight until the junta falls.”
The military government further escalated the use of deadly force Saturday with fighter jets launching airstrikes in an area near the Thai border controlled by an armed ethnic group dedicated to overturning the coup, according to Reuters.
The group, the Karen National Union, reportedly said the jets attacked Day Pu Noe village about 8 p.m. local time (3:30 UTC), killing two people and forcing residents to take refuge elsewhere.
The KNU said earlier Saturday it killed 10 soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel, as it overran an army base.
In a show of force, the military regime held a massive parade in the capital, Naypyidaw, to mark Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the start of local resistance to the Japanese occupation during World War II.
As troops marched alongside army vehicles, junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing defended the coup again and pledged to relinquish power after new elections, without specifying any date. Min Aung Hlaing seized power in a February 1 coup.