Myanmar protest – death toll rises hours after fresh crackdown

Protesters defy military warning in mass strike

At least 50 people were killed when security forces opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in several parts of Myanmar on Saturday, the Myanmar Now news portal said. It said the dead included 13 killed in the country’s second-biggest city, Mandalay, 9 in the nearby region of Sagaing and 7 in the commercial capital Yangon.

Protesters against the February 1 military coup came out on the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other towns, defying a warning they could be shot “in the head and back” as the country’s generals celebrated Armed Forces Day. The Tatmadaw, held the annual “Armed Forces Day” parade, using the occasion to condemn the opposition and promise elections. The parade was a show of force for the Tatmadaw, with military vehicles, firepower and soldiers marching in formation. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin also attended the parade. On Friday, he met with senior Tatmadaw leaders and offered his support. “Russia in a true friend,” Min Aung Hlaing said Friday. There were no signs of officials from other countries, although international guests are usually present at the parade.