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Myanmar death toll mounts amid protests, military crackdown

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More than 550 people killed by new rulers since the Myanmar coup

Myanmar has been rocked by protests since the army overthrew Suu Kyi's elected government on February 1 citing unsubstantiated claims of fraud in a November election that her party swept.

The youngest confirmed fatality to date was a seven-year-old girl named Khin Myo Chit, killed when security forces stormed her home.

"Flower strikes, " in which flowers are laid at memorial sites for slain protesters, formed into protest slogans such as "Myanmar Bleeds" and "We Will Never Surrender", or simply scattered around at random have become popular. "It is clear that Myanmar is no longer a safe place for children".

Actress Paing Phyoe Thu said she would not be cowed.

Stronger positions on Myanmar have been taken by the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, the top diplomats of which are meeting separately this week with Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi in Beijing.

Concerns are rising that Myanmar may be sliding towards civil war, due to the severity of the military crackdown and the formation by some anti-coup groups of local militias.

"This is a reaction to the ongoing violent clashes between the military and the civilian population", the company said in a statement.

The military has violently cracked down on the ensuing protests.

Anti-coup protesters in Myanmar symbolically burned copies of the country's constitution Thursday as a group of deposed lawmakers announced a new civilian government to run counter to the ruling military junta. "Concerned governments should demand the release of everyone disappeared and impose targeted economic sanctions against junta leaders to finally hold this abusive military to account".

Mourners make the three-finger salute as they attend the funeral of a protester, who died amid a crackdown by security forces on demonstrations against the military coup, in Taunggyi in Myanmar's Shan state on March 29, 2021.

In areas controlled by the Karen, more than a dozen civilians have been killed since Saturday and more than 20,000 have been displaced, according to the Free Burma Rangers, a relief agency operating in the area.

The human rights organization says that about 2,750 people have been imprisoned or punished. The airstrikes prompted thousands of people to flee through the jungle and over the border into neighboring Thailand.

The UN Security Council late Thursday strongly condemned the use of violence against peaceful protesters.

In earlier versions of the text, obtained by AFP, Western nations wanted to include a "readiness to consider further steps" - a reference to the possibility of global sanctions. Tensions have risen between the Myanmar military and the KNU's Brigade 5, Brigade 1 and Brigade 3 in Papun District, Nyaunglebin District and Thaton District.

In a statement issued via state media on Friday evening, the military hit back against the United Nations secretary-general's special envoy on Myanmar, who said on Wednesday that "a bloodbath is imminent".

More than a dozen ethnic minority groups have sought greater autonomy from the central government for decades, sometimes through armed struggle.

"Among those killed were a 13-year-old boy who was reportedly shot in the head while trying to run away from armed forces, and a 14-year-old Mandalay boy who was reportedly shot dead while he was inside or around his home", Sky News wrote Friday, citing the AAPP report. Even in times of peace, relations have been strained and cease-fires fragile.

The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades languished under strict military rule that led to global isolation and sanctions.

Several of the major groups - including the Kachin, the Karen and the Rakhine Arakan Army - have denounced the coup and said they will defend protesters in their territories.

As the generals loosened their grip, culminating in Aung San Suu Kyi's rise to leadership in 2015 elections, the global community responded by lifting most sanctions and pouring investment into the country.

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