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Myanmar protest deaths reach 320 as US, UK, impose sanctions

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An anti-coup student protester is welcomed home with flowers by the residents of her neighborhood after being released from jail, Friday, March 26, 2021, in Yangon, Myanmar. (AP Photo)

YANGON – The toll of protesters confirmed killed in Myanmar since last month’s military takeover has reached 320, a group that verifies details of deaths and arrests announced Friday.

Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said its tally includes only documented cases, with the actual number of casualties “likely much higher.” It said 11 people were killed Thursday, when it also managed to verify 23 deaths that occurred previously.

Myanmar news agencies, including the Democratic Voice of Burma and Mizzima, reported that three more people had been shot dead by security forces in the city of Myeik in southern Myanmar. Video posted on Mizzima TV’s YouTube channel showed protesters risking getting hit by gunfire to carry the bloody body of one young man who the report said had later died.

Social media posts, many including photos of bodies, indicated that as many as seven people may have been killed in various cities by nightfall on Friday. Those reports could not immediately be confirmed.

The Assistance Association described a typical deadly confrontation Thursday in Taunggyi, in Shan state in eastern Myanmar, when “the junta used live ammunition, trying to create a combat zone of residential areas, resulting in four civilians shot and killed, one dead body was dragged away, some other civilians were injured.

“Moreover, junta forces raided houses and violently arrested youths and civilians, thereafter destroying motorcycles, cars and barricades. They stormed streets unprovoked, shouted obscenities and vandalized property.”

State television MRTV on Friday night showed an announcement urging young people — who have been at the forefront of the protests and prominent among the casualties — to learn a lesson from those killed already about the danger of being shot in the head or back.

The warning was taken as an explicit threat because a great number of the fatalities among the protesters have come from being shot in the head, suggesting they have been targeted for death. The announcement suggested that some young people were taking part in protesting as if it was a game, and urged their parents and friends to talk them out of participating.