Deadliest day since Myanmar military coup as 107 killed with children said to be amongst fatalities

Video report by ITV News Reporter Graham Stothard

A record number of civilians, including children, have been killed in the deadliest day since Myanmar's military coup last month.

An independent researcher in the city of Yangon put the death toll at 107, with the bloodshed having spread over more than two dozen cities and towns.Security forces in the south-east Asian nation have been accused of opening fire on armed civilians, killing dozens of innocent people, including children, in a bloody crackdown on the annual armed forces day.

Children are thought to be amongst the 100 killed in Saturday's protests. Credit: AP

Saturday's death toll surpasses estimates for the previous high on March 14, which ranged from 74 to 90 deaths.

As of Friday, the number of protesters killed since the takeover was 328, said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which documents deaths and arrests. This figure does not take into account the deaths which took place on Saturday.

It said its tally only includes verified cases, with the actual number of casualties “likely much higher.” It said eight people were killed on Friday.

CCTV footage from the city of Dawei showed security forces opening fire at point-blank range on three men who rode past their pick-up truck on a motorbike.

Security forces were captured on camera shooting at three men on a motorbike at point-blank range. Credit: AP

Footage showed the bike crashing into a gate and two of the men running off under renewed fire from what appeared to be police officers.

The third man could be seen falling on the ground after being hit, then carried onto one of the security vehicles.

Police fired at two of the men as they fled. Credit: AP

It was later confirmed the third man survived and was being treated in hospital.

Myanmar security forces met renewed anti-coup protests with unsparing violence on Saturday, firing live rounds into crowds across the country and killing scores of people in more than two dozen towns and cities.

While the military celebrated the annual holiday with a parade in the country’s capital, Naypyitaw, people across Myanmar called for bigger demonstrations.

The protesters refer to the holiday by its original name, Resistance Day, which marks the beginning of a revolt against Japanese occupation in World War 2.

In the small town of Launglone, around 3,000 anti-coup protesters took to the streets with no interference from security forces.

It was a rare peaceful demonstration on a day when police and soldiers brutally suppressed opposition to last month's takeover, firing into crowds and killing dozens across the country.

The head of the military Min Aung Hlaing used the country's Armed Forces Day to try to justify the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government on February 1.

Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing Credit: AP

In a televised speech before thousands of soldiers at a massive parade ground at the capital Naypyitaw on Saturday, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing referred to “terrorism which can be harmful to state tranquility and social security,” and called it unacceptable.

In his speech, Min Aung Hlaing accused Ms Suu Kyi’s government of failing to investigate irregularities in the last polls, which her National League for Democracy party won in a landslide.

He said his government would hold “a free and fair election”.

Military personnel participate in a parade on Armed Forces Day Credit: AP

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the regime had hit a “new low” on Saturday.

“Today’s killing of unarmed civilians, including children, marks a new low," Mr Raab said.

“We will work with our international partners to end this senseless violence, hold those responsible to account, and secure a path back to democracy.”

The slaughter has provoked an international outcry, with the British ambassador among the diplomatic missions raising concerns that children are among the dead.

Dan Chugg, the British ambassador in Yangon, said that the “security forces have disgraced themselves by shooting unarmed civilians”.

“At a time of economic crisis, Covid and a worsening humanitarian situation, today’s military parade and extrajudicial killings speak volumes for the priorities of the military junta,” he said.

The European Union’s delegation to Myanmar said on Twitter: “This 76th Myanmar armed forces day will stay engraved as a day of terror and dishonour. The killing of unarmed civilians, including children, are indefensible acts.”

State television MRTV on Friday night showed an announcement urging young people to learn a lesson from those killed already about the danger of being shot in the head or back.

Police personnel participate in a parade during the national Armed Forces Day Credit: AP

The warning was taken as a threat because many protesters have been shot in the head, suggesting they were deliberately killed.

The announcement suggested some young people were taking part in protesting as if it was a game, and urged their parents and friends to advise them not to participate.

The junta detained Ms Suu Kyi on the day of the takeover. It continues to hold her on minor criminal charges while investigating allegations of corruption against her that her supporters dismiss as politically motivated.