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Myanmar Forces Kill 82 in Single Day   04/11 09:11

   

   YANGON (AP) -- At least 82 people were killed in one day in a crackdown by 
Myanmar security forces on pro-democracy protesters, according to reports 
Saturday from independent local media and an organization that keeps track of 
casualties since the February coup.

   Friday's death toll in Bago was the biggest one-day total for a single city 
since March 14, when just over 100 people were killed in Yangon, the country's 
biggest city. Bago is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Yangon. The 
Associated Press is unable to independently verify the number of deaths.

   The death toll of 82 was a preliminary one compiled by the Assistance 
Association for Political Prisoners, which issues daily counts of casualties 
and arrests from the crackdown in the aftermath of the Feb. 1 coup that ousted 
the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

   Their tallies are widely accepted as highly credible because cases are not 
added until they have been confirmed, with the details published on their 
website.

   In its Saturday report, the group said that it expected the number of dead 
in Bago to rise as more cases were verified.

   The online news site Myanmar Now also reported that 82 people had been 
killed, citing an unnamed source involved with charity rescue work. Myanmar Now 
and other local media said the bodies had been collected by the military and 
dumped on the grounds of a Buddhist pagoda.

   At least 701 protesters and bystanders have been killed by security forces 
since the army's takeover, according to the Assistance Association for 
Political Prisoners.

   The attack on Bago was the third in the past week involving the massive use 
of force to try to crush the persistent opposition to the ruling junta.

   Attacks were launched Wednesday on hardcore opponents of military rule who 
had set up strongholds in the towns of Kalay and Taze in the country's north. 
In both places, at least 11 people -- possibly including some bystanders -- 
were reported killed.

   The security forces were accused of using heavy weapons in their attacks, 
including rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, though such allegations could 
not be independently confirmed by The Associated Press. Photos posted on social 
media from Bago appeared to show fragments of mortar shells.

   Most protests in cities and town around the country are carried out by 
nonviolent demonstrators who consider themselves part of a civil disobedience 
movement.

   But as the police and military escalated the use of lethal force, a hardcore 
faction of protesters armed themselves with homemade weapons such as firebombs 
in the name of self-defense. In Kalay, activists dubbed themselves a "civil 
army" and some equipped themselves with rudimentary hunting rifles that are 
traditional in the remote area.

   A report by Myanmar Now said residents of Tamu, a town in the same region as 
Kalay, used hunting rifles Saturday to ambush a military convoy, and claimed to 
kill three soldiers.

   The junta has taken other measures as well to discourage resistance. It 
recently published a wanted list of 140 people active in the arts and 
journalism charged with spreading information that undermines the stability of 
the country and the rule of law. The penalty for the offense is up to three 
years' imprisonment. Arrests of those on the list have been highly publicized 
in state media.

   State television channel MRTV reported Friday night that a military court 
had sentenced to death 19 people -- 17 in absentia -- for allegedly killing an 
army officer in Yangon on March 27. The attack took place in an area of the 
city that is under martial law, and the court action appeared to be the first 
time the death sentence has been imposed under the junta's rule.

   The U.N. special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, arrived 
Friday in the Thai capital Bangkok on a regional mission to resolve the crisis 
in Myanmar. She intends to sound out several Southeast Asian governments for 
their ideas but has been denied permission to visit Myanmar.

 
 
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