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Report: Burma troops fire on mourners

No word on deaths, injuries at funeral of student killed during demonstration by The Associated Press | March 29, 2021 at 3:00 a.m.
Anti-coup protesters take positions behind their makeshift barricade in a protest in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)

RANGOON, Burma -- Burma security forces opened fire Sunday on a crowd attending the funeral of student who was killed on the bloodiest day yet of a crackdown on protests against last month's coup, local media reported.

The escalating violence -- which took the lives of at least 114 people Saturday, including several children under 16 -- has prompted a United Nations human-rights expert to accuse the junta of committing "mass murder" and to criticize the international community for not doing enough to stop it.

But it has not so far stopped either the demonstrations against the Feb. 1 takeover or the violent response of the military and police to them. Local outlet Myanmar Now reported that the junta's troops shot at mourners at the funeral in the city of Bago for Thae Maung Maung, a 20-year-old killed on Saturday. He was reportedly a member of the All Burma Federation of Student Union, which has a long history of supporting pro-democracy movements in the country.

Burma is often called Myanmar, a name that military authorities adopted in 1989. Some nations, such as the United States and Britain, have refused to adopt the name change.

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According to the report, several people attending the funeral were arrested. It did not say if anyone was hurt or killed. But at least nine people were killed elsewhere Sunday as the crackdown continued, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been tallying deaths during demonstrations against the coup.

Some of the funerals held Sunday became themselves opportunities to demonstrate resistance to the junta.

At one in Bhamo in the northern state of Kachin, a large crowd chanted democracy slogans and raised the three-finger salute that has come to symbolize defiance of the takeover. Family and friends were paying their respects to Shwe Myint, a 36-year-old who was shot dead by security forces on Saturday.

In Rangoon, the country's largest city, meanwhile, mourners flashed the three-finger salute as they wheeled the coffin of a 13-year-old boy. Sai Wai Yan was shot dead by security forces as he played outside his home.

The Feb. 1 coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government reversed years of progress toward democracy after five decades of military rule. It has again made Burma the focus of international scrutiny as security forces have repeatedly fired into crowds of protesters. At least 459 people have been killed since the takeover, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The junta has accused some of the demonstrators of perpetrating the violence because of their sporadic use of Molotov cocktails and has said its use of force has been justified to stop what it has called rioting. While protesters have occasionally hurled firecrackers at troops and on Saturday carried bows and arrows, they remain vastly out-gunned.

Saturday's death toll far exceeded the previous single-day high that ranged from 74 to 90 on March 14. The killings happened throughout the country as Burma's military celebrated the annual Armed Forces Day holiday with a parade in the country's capital, Naypyitaw.

"Today the junta of Myanmar has made Armed Forces Day a day of infamy with the massacre of men, women and very young children throughout country," said Tom Andrews, the U.N.'s independent expert on human rights for Burma. "Words of condemnation or concern are frankly ringing hollow to the people of Myanmar while the military junta commits mass murder against them. ... It is past time for robust, coordinated action."

Those calls were echoed by others. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was shocked by the killings, and a group of defense chiefs from 12 countries also condemned the violence.

But it's still not clear what action is possible -- or how quick it could be. The U.N. Security Council has condemned the violence but not advocated concerted action against the junta, such as a ban on selling it arms. China and Russia are both major arms suppliers to Burma's military as well as politically sympathetic, and as members of the council would almost certainly veto any such move.

If the Security Council isn't able to do anything, Andrews called for an emergency international summit. Already many countries have imposed some sanctions and threatened more, but it's not clear what further action governments will take.

Anti-coup protesters are seen behind their makeshift barricade that protesters burn to make defense line during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
Anti-coup protesters are seen behind their makeshift barricade that protesters burn to make defense line during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
An anti-coup protester throws a Molotov cocktail to confront police in Yangon, Myanmar Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
An anti-coup protester throws a Molotov cocktail to confront police in Yangon, Myanmar Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
Anti-coup protesters disperse as the protesters confront police in Yangon, Myanmar Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
Anti-coup protesters disperse as the protesters confront police in Yangon, Myanmar Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
An anti-coup protester holds a smoke bomb behind makeshift barricade, as the protesters confront police in Yangon, Myanmar Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
An anti-coup protester holds a smoke bomb behind makeshift barricade, as the protesters confront police in Yangon, Myanmar Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
An anti-coup protester prepares a Molotov cocktail in a protest against police crackdown in Yangon, Myanmar Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
An anti-coup protester prepares a Molotov cocktail in a protest against police crackdown in Yangon, Myanmar Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
Anti-coup protesters take cover behind parked vehicles as they confront police at Hlaing township in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
Anti-coup protesters take cover behind parked vehicles as they confront police at Hlaing township in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
Anti-coup protesters block a street to confront police crackdown in Yangon, Myanmar Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
Anti-coup protesters block a street to confront police crackdown in Yangon, Myanmar Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
Anti-coup protesters use sling shot to confront police at Thaketa Township in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
Anti-coup protesters use sling shot to confront police at Thaketa Township in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
Anti-coup protesters run around their makeshift barricade they burn to make defense line during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
Anti-coup protesters run around their makeshift barricade they burn to make defense line during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, March 28, 2021. Protesters in Myanmar returned to the streets Sunday to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces killed more than 100 people in the bloodiest day since last month's military coup. (AP Photo)
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