Security forces killed more than 90 people across Myanmar on Saturday in one of the bloodiest days of protests since a military coup last month.
The lethal crackdown came as the country’s military celebrated the annual Armed Forces Day holiday with a parade in the capital.
State television had warned on Friday that protesters risked being shot “in the head and back”. Despite this, demonstrators against the Feb. 1 coup came out on the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other towns.
The Myanmar Now news portal said 91 people were killed across the country by security forces.
A boy reported by local media to be as young as five was among at least 29 people killed in Mandalay. At least 24 people were killed in Yangon, Myanmar Now said.
“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for CRPH, an anti-junta group set up by deposed lawmakers, told an online forum.
The killings quickly drew international condemnation, with multiple diplomatic missions to Myanmar releasing statements that mentioned the killing of civilians, including children.
“This 76th Myanmar armed forces day will stay engraved as a day of terror and dishonour,” the European Union’s delegation to Myanmar said on Twitter. “The killing of unarmed civilians, including children, are indefensible acts.”
Saturday’s deaths would take the number of civilians reported killed since the coup to well over 400.
The military has said it took power because November elections won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party were fraudulent, an assertion dismissed by the country’s election commission.
In his speech Saturday, Min Aung Hlaing used the occasion to try to justify the overthrow of Suu Kyi’s government, accusing it of failing to investigate irregularities in last November’s general election, and repeating that his government would hold “a free and fair election” and hand over power afterward.
Suu Kyi, the elected leader and the country’s most popular civilian politician, remains in detention at an undisclosed location. Many other figures in her party are also being held in custody.