YANGON: Myanmar anti-coup protesters staged more rallies on Friday (Mar 26) after the military reportedly shot dead nine people a day earlier.

Candle-lit protests took place across the country overnight including in the Mandalay and Sagaing regions, as well as in Karen and Chin states, media reports said.

In Myanmar’s second city of Mandalay, protesters marched on Friday morning in front of a “civil disobedience movement” banner, Mizzima news reported.

Myanmar has been rocked by almost daily protests since the army overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government and installed the junta.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her campaign to bring democratic civilian rule to Myanmar, and other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) are being held in detention.

More than 300 people have been killed in the subsequent crackdown, with nearly 90 per cent of victims shot dead and a quarter of them shot in the head, according to data from an advocacy group and local media.

A junta spokesman said 164 protesters and nine members of the security forces had been killed as of Tuesday. Reuters could not independently verify all the accounts.

Police patrol the streets in Yangon, Myanmar on Mar 13, 2021. (AP Photo)

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YOUNGEST VICTIM WAS 7 YEARS OLD

The killings have drawn outrage and prompted some sanctions from Western countries, including the United States. The use of lethal force against civilians had also been condemned by some Southeast Asian neighbours.

“Crimes against humanity are committed daily,” said the non-profit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) group, which has been recording the deaths as well as nearly 3,000 people arrested, charged or sentenced since the coup.

The group had recorded 320 deaths by Mar 25.

Anti-coup protesters surround an injured man in Hlaing Thar Yartownship in Yangon, Myanmar on Mar 14, 2021. (AP Photo)

Its data show at least 25 per cent of those who were killed died from shots to the head, raising suspicions they were deliberately targeted for killing. Full data is not available for every death.

“Everything points to troops adopting shoot to kill tactics to suppress the protests,” Amnesty International said earlier this month.

The junta denies using excessive force and says that its actions have met international norms in the face of a situation it says is a threat to national security.

Nearly 90 per cent of the dead were male. About 36 per cent were aged 24 or under.

The youngest victim, seven-year-old Khin Myo Chit, was shot dead in the second city of Mandalay on Tuesday. She was at her home with her father when she was killed.

Win Kyi, 78, is the oldest person recorded to have been killed and was among around 50 people killed in Yangon’s Hlaing Thayar district on Mar 14, the bloodiest day so far.

ARMY DAY

The AAPP recorded nine protesters were killed on Thursday.

Other media outlets reported at least seven protesters were wounded when security forces opened fire in various places. Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

The military was trying to stifle protests before Armed Forces Day on Saturday, the AAPP said.

The day commemorates the launch of armed resistance against Japanese occupation in 1945 and typically involves military parades through the capital Naypyidaw.

A military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Demonstrators are seen behind barricades during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Mar 22, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS)

READ: Myanmar’s economy to contract 10% this year amid turmoil, says World Bank

Residents said that after dark on Thursday, soldiers raided Yangon’s Mingalar Taungnyunt district and arrested people on the streets after curfew. Residents heard bangs that could be either stun grenades or gunfire, they said.

One resident said soldiers had shot at his building every night this week and checked houses they deemed suspicious.

“Even if they find nothing, they take everything they want,” he told Reuters.

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