Myanmar's junta says will strive for democracy after chilling warning to protesters


The death toll from crackdowns on anti-coup protests by Myanmar's military had reached 320 by Thursday night, a rights group monitoring the situation said, while the outside world has found few effective means to rein in the indiscriminate violence against citizens.

Myanmar security forces killed at least 19 protesters on Saturday, witnesses said, in violent crackdowns on demonstrations across the country as the military regime staged a major show of force for its annual Armed Forces Day parade.

"Four men were brought to us dead", an emergency worker from Mandalay city, Myanmar's second-largest, told AFP, as she frantically tried to treat dozens of injured.

"Today is a day of shame for the armed forces", Dr. Sasa, a spokesperson for CRPH, an anti-junta group set up by deposed lawmakers, told an online forum.

The embassies of the European Union and the United Kingdom in Myanmar condemned the latest killings of "unarmed civilians, including children", describing them as "indefensible acts".

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

Residents said that after dark on Thursday, soldiers raided Yangon's Mingalar Taungnyunt district and arrested people still on the streets after curfew.

"This comes a day after the military announced that further protests would be met with shots to the head".

Early-bird protesters were also out in parts of Myanmar's commercial hub Yangon, marching with red balloons at dawn with signs saying "Get out terrorist dictator", according to local media.

"Violent acts that affect stability and security in order to make demands are inappropriate".

A boy reported by local media to be as young as five was among at least 29 people killed in the city of Mandalay.

A broadcast on the state MRTV news channel said: "You should learn from the tragedy of earlier ugly deaths that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back". Myanmar security forces reportedly killed 93 people Saturday in the deadliest day since last months military coup.

Min Aung Hlaing claimed that authorities wanted to protect people and restore peace, while warning against further protests.

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In a televised speech before thousands of soldiers at a massive parade ground at the capital Naypyitaw on Saturday, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing referred to "terrorism which can be harmful to state tranquility and social security", and called it unacceptable.

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.

Myanmar has been in a state of turmoil, ever since the military coup ousted defect leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1. Many other figures in her party are also being held in custody.

There were no signs of officials from other countries, although worldwide guests are usually present at the parade.

Protesters have taken to the streets nearly daily since the coup that derailed Myanmar's slow transition to democracy.

Saturday's bloodshed adds to the current toll of almost 330 killed in demonstrations against the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group. At least a quarter of them were shot in the head, according to the same group.

Reuters could not independently verify the numbers killed.

A military spokesperson did not respond to calls seeking comment.

The United Nations special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, said the military had turned against its own citizens.

Diplomats said eight countries - Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand - sent representatives, but Russia was the only one to send a minister.

Support from Russian Federation and China, which has also refrained from criticism, is important for the junta as they are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and can block potential UN actions.

On Thursday the U.S. and Britain - the nation's former colonial ruler - imposed sanctions on a conglomerate owned by the Myanmar military.