Over 70 people were killed in Bago in central Myanmar on Friday as the military opened fire on anti-coup protesters and others, local media reported Saturday.
Soldiers reportedly surrounded residents from early morning, using heavy weaponry. They brought the dead into a pagoda, where over 50 bodies might be, local media outlet Myanmar Now reported, citing a protest group leader who spoke with eyewitnesses.
Myanmar's military-affiliated TV channel reported Friday night that 19 people were sentenced to death by court-martial the previous day over the death of an associate of an army officer, likely marking the first death sentences imposed by the junta following a February military coup.
On March 27, the 19 robbed and tortured an army officer and his associate after stopping their motorbike in the township of North Okkalapa in the country's largest city Yangon, killing the latter, according to MRTV. The township is one of several in Yangon where the junta declared martial law in March.
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Out of the 19, only two are in custody, and the rest remain at large, the report said.
On the country's Armed Forces Day on March 27, more than 100 people were killed by security forces across Myanmar, the deadliest day of protests since the Feb. 1 coup.
Also Friday in Bago, central Myanmar, the military opened fire on anti-coup protesters possibly killing dozens of them, according to local media.
Soldiers have been bringing the dead into a pagoda, where over 50 bodies might be, local media outlet Myanmar Now reported, citing a protest leader who spoke with eyewitnesses.
Soldiers are said to have surrounded residents from early morning, using heavy weaponry. Troops arrived in a residential area in 10 trucks in the late afternoon and shot people, the report said.
The junta's top decision-making body, the State Administration Council, indicated at a news conference on Friday that the one-year state of emergency issued following the coup could be extended.
The country's Constitution stipulates that a one-year state of emergency can be extended for another year, with a general election to be held within six months after the state of emergency ends.
Spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun said the council will abide by regulations, stressing that it has promised the world an election would be held. He also defended the military as a protector of democracy.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a Thai-based rights group monitoring the situation in Myanmar, put the death toll from the military's bloody campaign against protesters at 618 as of Friday.