USA 'horrified' by deadliest day since military takeover

Min Aung Hlaing says violent acts that affect stability and security in order to make demands are ‘inappropriate

Defense chiefs from a dozen countries, including the United States, issued a rare joint statement Saturday condemning Myanmar's use of lethal force against pro-democracy, unarmed people.

"The continuing military crackdown, which today resulted in the highest daily death toll since demonstrations against the coup began last month, is unacceptable and demands a firm, unified and resolute worldwide response".

In Yangon, the country's largest city, they flashed the three-finger salute as they wheeled the coffin of a 13-year-old boy.

The UN put Saturday's death toll at 107 people -- including seven children -- but expected it to rise further. The Associated Press is unable to independently confirm the death tolls.

The bloodshed quickly drew worldwide condemnation, both from diplomatic missions within Myanmar and overseas.

The United Nations said Saturday it had received reports of "scores killed" including children in Myanmar in "shocking violence" by the military against protesters. "These are not the actions of a professional military or police force".

"We are told by the neighbours that Aye Ko was shot and thrown into the fire", one relative told AFP news agency.

Demonstrators turned out on Saturday in Yangon, Mandalay and other towns, as they have done nearly daily since the February 1 coup that ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Activist group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) counted at least 328 protesters who have been killed in the weeks of unrest.

The leader of the junta, General Min Aung Hlaing said the military would protect the people and strive to establish democracy.

"UN Security Council member states' continued refusal to meaningfully act against this never-ending horror is contemptible", said Ming Yu Hah, the organisation's deputy regional director for campaigns.

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The violence took place on Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the resistance against Japan during the Second World War.

In an ominous warning on Friday evening, state television said: "You should learn from the tragedy of earlier ugly deaths that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back". The announcement suggested that some young people were taking part in protesting as if it was a game, and urged their parents and friends to talk them out of participating.

In recent days the junta has portrayed the demonstrators as the ones perpetrating violence for their sporadic use of Molotov cocktails. The U.K.'s ambassador to Myanmar, Dan Chugg, wrote that the security forces "disgraced themselves by shooting unarmed civilians". "We believe that all parties involved will respect the will of the Myanmar people and hope that the democratic and constitutional process will be restored soon".

There were no reports of casualties. British Ambassador Dan Chugg said the security forces had "disgraced themselves" and the USA envoy called the violence horrifying.

Min Aung Hlaing said the army had to seize power because of "unlawful acts" by Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy, adding that some party leaders had been found guilty of corruption and legal action was being taken against them. Today is Armed Forces Day in Myanmar.

"Far from celebrating, the Myanmar military has made yesterday a day of horror and of shame", European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

"Strong, targeted sanctions from the USA, U.K., and other states are important to isolate the junta and deprive it of resources, but they're not enough", said Matthew Smith.

At least 114 civilians, some of them children, were killed Saturday across Myanmar, independent news portal Myanmar Now reported. "Governments can no longer sit idly by and watch this attack unfold".

The Myanmar Now news portal said at least 114 people were killed across the country in the crackdown on Saturday.

The Karen National Union is one of more than a dozen ethnic organizations that have been fighting for decades to gain more autonomy from Myanmar's central government.

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