Myanmar forces kill 7 as crackdown on protesters continues

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Protesters attend a candlelight night rally in Yangon, Myanmar, Saturday, Mar. 13, 2021. Security forces in Myanmar on Saturday again met protests against last month's military takeover with lethal force, killing at least four people by shooting live ammunition at demonstrators. (AP Photo)

MANDALAY – Security forces in Myanmar on Saturday again met protests against last month’s military takeover with lethal force, killing at least seven people by shooting live ammunition at demonstrators.

Four deaths were reported in Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, two in Pyay, a town in south-central Myanmar, and one in Twante, a suburb of Yangon, Myanmar's largest city. Details of all seven deaths were posted on multiple social media accounts, some accompanied by photos of the victims.

The actual death toll is likely to be higher, as police apparently seized some bodies, and some of the victims suffered grievous gunshot wounds that doctors and nurses working at makeshift clinics will be hard-pressed to treat. Many hospitals are occupied by security forces, and as a result are boycotted by medical personnel and shunned by protesters.

The independent U.N. human rights expert for Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said Thursday that “credible reports” indicated security forces in the Southeast Asian nation had so far killed at least 70 people, and cited growing evidence of crimes against humanity since the military ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Other unofficial but carefully compiled tallies put the total number of deaths since the coup at around 90.

Saturday’s killings did not faze demonstrators in Yangon who crowded a downtown commercial area past the official 8 p.m. curfew to hold a mass candlelight vigil and to sing about their cause. The mostly young protesters rallied at an intersection where they usually gather for daytime protests.

After-dark rallies was also held in Mandalay and elsewhere.

Reports on social media also said three people were shot dead Friday night in Yangon, where residents for the past week have been defying the curfew to come out onto the streets.