Myanmar’s security forces have shot and killed five more protesters, pushing the death toll past the 550 mark.
Anti-coup protesters now take to the streets in habit. They want the government of de facto leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi reinstated.
Of the more than 550 fatalities since February 1, 46 have been children, according the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group.
Well over 2,700 people have also been detained or sentenced, the group says.
On Saturday, security forces fired on a crowd in the central town of Monywa. Four people were killed.
“They started firing non-stop with both stun grenades and live rounds,” a protester told Reuters via a messaging app.
“People backed off and quickly put up ... barriers but a bullet hit a person in front of me, in the head. He died on the spot.”
In the southern town of Thaton, police shot and killed a man, local media reported.
A video is circulating on social media, showing a group of protesters carrying away a young man with what appeared to be a serious head wound. The victim’s condition was not immediately known.
Protest leader Tayzar San said in an audio message that people “are still protesting every day because we believe strongly that this is a fight between good and evil.”
The February 1 coup came against the backdrop of election fraud allegations against Suu Kyi, who faces several criminal charges, including violating coronavirus restrictions by staging a campaign event in 2020.
The international community has repeatedly called for the restoration of civilian rule and her release. She has been under house arrest.
The military has stepped up crackdown on the autonomy-seeking ethnic minority groups that have announced their support for the anti-coup protests.
It recently launched airstrikes on the positions of the Karen National Union (KNU) forces. Media reports say about 20 people have been killed in the strikes.
The KNU, which signed a ceasefire with the government in 2012, said the bombardment has forced more than 12,000 villagers from homes.
The KNU says the “non-stop bombings and airstrikes” have targeted “unarmed civilians” in their homeland along the border with Thailand.
“The attacks have caused the death of many people including children and students, and the destruction of schools, residential homes and villages.”
“These terrorist acts are clearly a flagrant violation of local and international laws.”
Myanmar was ruled by the military until 2011, when Suu Kyi ended the junta rule and introduced ‘reforms.’
Her party, however, cultivated close relations with the military from the beginning of its activity and formed an alliance with senior military officers.
She supported the military in a deadly campaign of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim community in the western state of Rakhine. Suu Kyi also defended military atrocities against the Rohingya at the UN's top court in The Hague in December 2019.