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Myanmar crackdown toll tops 700


YANGON: The number of people killed since the military coup in Myanmar has risen to 700 after new violence over the weekend.

According to the non-profit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), at least 701 people have been killed in the violent crackdown by security forces on protesters.

On Friday alone, at least 82 people were killed in the south-eastern city of Bago, AAPP said. Local media reported the military used heavy artillery against civilians.

“The UN in Myanmar is following events in Bago with reports of heavy artillery being used against civilians and medical treatment being denied to those injured,” the United Nations Myanmar office wrote on Twitter, calling for an end to the violence and the wounded to receive treatment.

Since the military on February 1 toppled the civilian government and put de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest, people have been protesting almost daily despite a brutal crackdown.

Military forces are using live ammunition against protesters and some 3,000 people have been detained, according to AAPP, with reports of torture.

But the protesters were undeterred, with people taking to the streets again on Sunday across the country.

Meanwhile, more reports have emerged of an attack on a police station by the Three Brotherhood Alliance militia. The attack in the community of Lashio on Saturday resulted in 15 deaths, according to a local journalist and a report by news portal DVB.

There were also reports about further clashes on Saturday in the northern region of Sagaing, after one student was killed in the town of Tamu, local media including Mizzima news and Irrawaddy wrote.

This reportedly led to students, members of the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), which organised the protests, and the insurgent Kuki National Army, an armed group of the ethnic Kuki people, fighting back.

As a result, 18 members of the junta and one other person were killed, according to the reports.

Meanwhile, Myanmar youth are fighting the junta’s Internet shutdown and information suppression with an explosive underground printed newsletter they are secretly distributing across communities.

For 56 days straight there have been Internet outages in coup-hit Myanmar, according to monitoring group NetBlocks.

The country has been in turmoil since democratically-elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi was ousted in a February 1 coup, triggering a mass uprising that has resulted in a brutal security crackdown and more than 700 civilian deaths.

Thirty-year-old Lynn Thant, not his real name, started the underground newsletter and gave it the edgy name Molotov to appeal to young people.

“This is our response to those who slow down the flow of information — and that’s a threat to us,” he said. — AFP

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