Myanmar death toll mounts as brutal military crackdown continues

Myanmar death toll mounts as brutal military crackdown continues

Some 2,751 people have been detained or sentenced

The civilian death toll in the crackdown by the Myanmar junta has reached 550 since the February 1 coup as security forces opened fire on pro-democracy protests on Saturday killing five people, a protester and media said.

Of those, 46 were children, according to Myanmar's Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Some 2,751 people have been detained or sentenced, the group said.

Late Friday, armed plainclothes police took five people into custody after they spoke with a CNN reporter in a Yangon market, local media reported, citing witnesses. The arrests occurred in three separate incidents.

Two women reportedly shouted for help as they were being arrested as the military reinforced its bid to end dissent with arrest warrants for online critics and internet blocks.

Threats of lethal violence and arrests of protesters have failed to suppress daily demonstrations across Myanmar demanding the military step down and reinstate the democratically elected government.

Despite the killing of more than 550 people by the security forces since the Feb. 1 coup, protesters are coming out every day, often in smaller groups in smaller towns, to voice opposition to the reimposition of military rule.

Security forces in the central town of Monywa fired on a crowd killing thee people, the Myanmar Now news service said, while one man was shot and killed in another central town, Bago, and one in Thaton to the south, the Bago Weekly Journal online news portal reported.

Myanmar Now news service reported. One police officer, who was carrying a gun, asked if "anyone dared to help them," a witness told the news service.

"They pointed their pistols at everyone-at passersby and at people in the store,” a witness said of two police officers who forcibly took away two other women in the market.

Meanwhile, the Karen National Union representing the ethnic minority rebel group that has been fighting the government for decades condemned "non-stop bombings and airstrikes” against villages and "unarmed civilians” in their homeland along the border with Thailand.

"The attacks have caused the death of many people including children and students, and the destruction of schools, residential homes, and villages. These terrorist acts are clearly a flagrant violation of local and international laws,” the group said in a statement.

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