'Dozens killed' as Myanmar military targets protesters in Bago

·2 min read

A military crackdown on protesters in Myanmar is continuing with reports of at least 80 people killed in ongoing violence, bringing the death toll to more than 700 since a coup in February.

Activists say security forces fired rifle grenades at protesters in the town of Bago, 90 kilometres north-east of Yangon, before taking away the bodies of those killed.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group said the exact death toll from the violence, which took place Friday, was difficult to determine because access to the area had been blocked.

Separately, there were reports of a group of ethnic armies attacking a police station in north-eastern Shan state, killing at least 10 officers.

Failing state

Professor David Camroux, a specialist in South-east Asia at Sciences Po, told RFI sister station France 24 that Myanmar was on the brink of a civil war.

"We have now got a junction between the civil disobedience movement, which is essentially in the main cities in the Myanmar heartlands, and also the armed ethnic organisations, which have under their command some 100,000 soldiers," Camroux said.

Widespread protests have been taking place across Myanmar, and in other countries, since the military seized control on 1 February – ousting civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Independent monitors sat more than 700 protesters have been killed since February.

Russia and China blocking efforts

Myanmar's ambassador to the UN urged Security Council members to take action against the military, including extending sanctions and imposing an arms embargo.

Meanwhile, international efforts to stem the violence have so far failed to yield results, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell saying Sunday it was "no surprise" that Russia and China were blocking efforts at the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo.

"Geopolitical competition in Myanmar will make it very difficult to find common ground, as we have witnessed again and again... but we have a duty to try," he wrote in a blog post.

Europe had become a major export market for Myanmar's garment industry in recent years, he said, suggesting the EU could offer to increase economic ties and investments if the country returns to a path of democracy.

"The Myanmar military is used to international isolation and has a decade-long record of ignoring the needs and the will of the country's citizens," he said.