Burma

At Least 60 Killed During Myanmar Regime’s Massacre at Anti-Regime Strongholds

By The Irrawaddy 10 April 2021

At least 60 people were gunned down in Bago Friday in a brutal assault on anti-regime strongholds by troops loyal to the military regime.

An accurate death toll was impossible, but the actual number of those killed was believed to be much higher.

Troops sprayed live rounds of ammunition and fired powerful explosives toward the strongholds’ defensive lines all day.

The troops launched their raids in three wards—Shinsawpu, Hmawkan and Nantawyar—of Bago, which is north of Yangon.

The attack targeted areas which had been fortified with roadblocks and sandbags to deter advancing troops. The assault began early in the morning.

The Friday offensive by the regime’s troops in Bago was the third deadly attack on protesters this week.

Security forces killed at least a dozen protesters in the town of Kalay and another dozen in the town of Taze. Both are upcountry towns in Sagaing Region which have been anti-regime strongholds. During the attacks, police and soldiers reportedly used powerful explosives, firing grenades to blast fortifed barricades.

A young protester who asked not to be named said they had been under attack with volleys of gunfire as well as explosives beginning at 5 a.m. and continuing throughout the day.

A resident in the area said they didn’t even dare to look out of their windows. “They shoot everything that moves,” the resident said.

The young protester added: “We were surrounded on all sides. We could not even collect the bodies of our fellow protesters who were shot.”

Other witnesses confirmed his statement and said they saw soldiers dragging away those who had been gunned down and throwing them into a dump truck. Many suspected that some of the wounded were dumped alongside the dead in the truck.

A monastery compound was reportedly used as a makeshift morgue to pile the corpses.

Based on witnesses’ accounts of the number being taken away, the toll was at least 59. Family members were asked to retrieve three bodies at a hospital on Saturday morning.

The Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP), which is also documenting the lists of fatalities and detention, said 62 people are confirmed dead.

That would push the total protest-related death toll to 680 as of Friday.

However, local people said the number killed in Bago is likely to be much higher, perhaps more than 80.

Some of those wounded were taken away, and an accurate death toll was impossible because rescue workers were threatened with being shot if they ventured out. On Saturday, residents claimed that they saw piles of bodies at the town’s Sin Phyu Kwin cemetery.

Local rescue workers and volunteers have been threatened since late March, and the public hospital has been taken over by soldiers and police, residents said.

The young protester said, “We have been unable to use the local rescue vehicles since 15 days ago. Since late March, when the protesters were shot dead, the families of the victims have been told to collect the bodies for funeral after the military took them.”

Due to the troops’ relentless shooting into residential neighborhoods, people fled to the nearby countryside Friday afternoon, afraid of being hit by stray bullets.

On Saturday, residents said, troops patrolled the streets of the town and were removing some of the remaining road barricades.

Despite the bloodshed, the regime continues to insist that its troops are not allowed to use live ammunition and that troops are following codes of conduct and protocols for crowd control.

During a press conference on Friday, regime spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun downplayed the actions of security forces when asked about the deaths of hundreds of civilians.

“If the protesters were shot with automatic assault rifles, the 500 people you mentioned could have been killed in a few hours,” he said.

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