In the Myanmar city of Bago, according to eyewitnesses, dozens of people were killed by the army. The reports and eyewitness accounts about the number of victims vary widely: from at least ten to at least 82, as a local action group and news organization write.
The army‘s offensive was directed against the barricades that protesters have raised on the streets. According to the protesters, military have used heavy artillery, such as machine guns and grenade launchers. The army denies that.
Fighting in Bago, some 80 kilometers northeast of the city of Yangon, began on Friday and lasted until Saturday morning.
Prodemocratic protesters have recovered three bodies, say eyewitnesses to news site Radio Free Asia. According to them, soldiers carried the remaining bodies to the grounds of a nearby pagoda and school. The area is closed by the army.
‘Protesters fight back‘
Photographs show that some protesters at the barricades threw fireworks at security forces. It can also be seen that some of them were holding improvised guns or not.
Until recently, protests against the military coup on 1 February were mainly peaceful on the part of the protesters. The army has been acting hard against the protest movement for a month, causing many deaths. Last week, some protesters have now also picked up weapons, reports AP news agency.
Today, a coalition of armed groups in the north of the country attacked a police station. At the same time, at least ten members of security forces were killed, write national media.
In Myanmar, several rebel groups have been fighting the government army for years. That makes it difficult to distinguish whether recent fights are related to the coup.
Nineteen people were sentenced to the death penalty on state television yesterday. It is the first time since the coup was committed that such a verdict has been issued openly. Because of the coup d’état, the state of martial law applies and the army has judicial powers.
The group of convicts is held responsible for the murder of a business partner of an army officer. The man would have been killed at the end of March in the largest city in the country, Yangon.
248 or 618 dead?
Since 1 February 618 people have been killed by the army, reports the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Nearly 3,000 citizens would have been arrested or convicted of resisting the coup.
At a press conference yesterday, the army summit contradicted these figures. According to a spokesman, the death toll was 248 at the time, and in addition to civilians, 16 agents were killed according to the military. In Myanmar, the dividing line between the army and the police is less clear than in the Netherlands. That‘s how the police are heavily armed.
‘Protest movement on return‘
The spokesman for the military regime defends the harsh action of the army. The protests would be on their return by now, is the reading of the junta. The military summit claims that democratic elections can be held again in two years’ time.
The UN Ambassador of Myanmar calls for sanctions against the regime. He is a fierce opponent of the coup and advocates the introduction of a no fly zone above his homeland in order to increase the pressure on the army.
This week it was announced that the Myanmar ambassador to the United Kingdom has been excluded from his own embassy in London. He has turned against the military coup and therefore claims to have been replaced by someone else. The British Government has announced that the man is welcome to stay in the country for the time being.