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550 civilians killed since Myanmar coup

April 3, 2021

A human rights group released the death toll as security forces continue to wage an increasing deadly campaign against anti-coup protesters.

Students, teachers and engineers from Dawei Technological University stage a protest against the military coup
A further five protesters were killed by security forces on SaturdayImage: DAWEI WATCH/REUTERS

Security forces in Myanmar opened fire on anti-coup protesters on Saturday, killing at least five people.

The latest deaths came as a human rights group reported that security forces have killed at least 550 civilians since February 1, when the military overthrew an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Out of those killed, 46 were children, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners added.

The latest from Myanmar

At least four people were killed in the central town of Monywa, which has seen big daily protests for weeks.

Reuters news agency reported that government forces fired on a crowd, which left several others injured.

One man was shot and killed in the southern town of Thaton, the Bago Weekly Journal online news portal and residents reported. Police also fired in the central town of Bago, wounding one man.

Military blocks most internet access

On Friday, Myanmar's military blocked all internet access apart from those using fiberoptic cable, which was working at drastically reduced speeds. The internet shutdown followed weeks of overnight cutoffs.

Protesters gather behind a barricade during a protest against the military coup, in Monywa
Anti-coup protesters have changed their tactics to avoid violent suppression from security forcesImage: REUTERS

Access to mobile networks and all wireless — the less-costly options used by most people in the developing country — remained blocked on Saturday.

Protests continue despite violence

The military has been facing daily protests since taking power.

But the demonstrations that drew tens of thousands of people in the early days of defiance in big cities have become rarer.

Opponents have changed tactics, staging small, quick rallies before security forces can respond.

People also gather at night for candle-lit vigils and hold "flower protests" to honor the dead.

Coup faces international condemnation

The United States and other Western countries have denounced the coup and called for the release of Suu Kyi.

The UN Security Council on Thursday strongly condemned the death of hundreds of civilians and the use of violence against protesters.

kmm/mm (Reuters, AP, epd)