More than 80 civilians, including students, were massacred by the Myanmar military regime in a single day in Bago Friday.
The initial death toll from the dawn attacks on anti-regime strongholds in Bago was about 60, but the number of those slain has continued to grow as more details emerge.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoner (AAPP), which has been documenting the lists of fatalities and detention since the Feb.1 coup, now says that about 82 people were killed by the regime’s troops during the Bago raids.
About 4 a.m. Friday, more than 250 military regime forces launched attacks on four residential wards—Shinsawpu, Hmawkan, Nantawyar and Ponnasu—of Bago, which is located 98 kilometers from Yangon.
While trying to remove roadblocks erected with sandbags by the anti-regime protesters, troops opened fire with automatic weapons and heavy explosives. The explosives are believed to have been rifle grenades, which were fired at anti-regime defense team members and night watchmen guarding protest assembly areas in the wards.
Photos show a tail of a rifle grenade and some unexploded-rifle grenades found by the residents.
As a result of the raids, dozens are still missing. Several people were injured and arrested, according to local residents.
As of Sunday, troops are still deployed in the wards and continue to fire live ammunition. Many of streets in the areas are still deserted. No one dares to go into the conflict areas. Many residents have already fled.
Most of the bodies of those killed in the dawn attacks have not been returned to their families. Return of the bodies has been complicated by the fact that some residents have left their homes because they fear arrest, according to local sources.
During the attack aimed at removing the roadblocks in Ponnasu ward, a 46-year-old night watch-man, Ko Myo Min, was shot dead by troops while he was fleeing the gunfire.
He left three children and his wife. The family had to hold his funeral urgently because security forces were searching for his dead body.
Before his death, Ko Myo Min asked his wife, Ma Kay Khine, not to send his children to school if the country remains under the control of the military regime.
“I feel deeply hurt. We all don’t want to live under dictatorship. Please help us,” Ma Kay Khine told The Irrawaddy on Sunday.
She also said that regime forces transferred the dead body of a man who was arrested on Friday to his family on Sunday, citing information from the man’s niece.
The man is believed to have been stabbed to death, based upon wounds found in his abdomen, Ma Kay Khine said, quoting the man’s niece.
On Friday, a social worker, Ko Thiha, was among the more than 80 who were shot or tortured to death by regime troops during the raids. Ko Thiha fled but was shot in the thigh while scaling a wall, according to a friend who was present.
The witness told The Irrawaddy that he saw soldiers beating Ko Thiha when he fell from the wall after being shot. The witness said his chest was bruised and there was a dent in his head.
The Bago University Student Union said that three university students—Ko Arkar Min Khant, a second-year zoology student, Ko Bo Bo Naing, a first-year zoology student, and Ko Kaung Kyaw Tun, 19, a first-year mathematics student—were killed during the raids.
Two university students—Ma Shwe Yi Aung and Ko Aung Kyaw Khant—are still missing, the student union said.
According to rescue organizations and U Ye Htut, who is one of the anti-regime strike leaders in the town, it was difficult to go into the raided areas to retrieve the bodies of the dead or to provide medical treatment for those wounded. Troops opened fire on everyone who appeared in the street or showed their faces at the windows of houses.
“This is not the action of cracking down on protests. I feel they are committing genocide on us because they opened fire on everything they saw,” said U Ye Htut. He faces an arrest warrant issued by the military regime.
Concerning the brutal raids in Bago, the United Nations in Myanmar on Saturday issued a statement calling for the immediate end of violence and demanding that security forces allow medical teams to treat the wounded.
On Sunday, some family members were reportedly asked for money by the authorities for retrieving the bodies of those killed in the Friday raids, according to residents.
However, The Irrawaddy was unable to confirm those reports independently.
As of Saturday, about 700 civilians have been killed by the military regimes during their raids, arrests and random gunfire. That total includes anti-regime protesters, bystanders, pedestrians and residents.
Despite the intensified violence on the part of the military regime, tens of thousands of people continue to take to the streets to show their defiance of military dictatorship.
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