Myanmar: Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing vows to 'safeguard democracy'

More protester deaths in Myanmar

Addressing a military parade earlier, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing said the army's job was to protect the people and promote democracy, reiterating his promise of a fresh election made after the army took power on Feb 1.

In a week that saw global pressure on the junta ramped up with new US and European sanctions, Russia's deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin attended the parade in Naypyitaw, having meet senior junta leaders a day earlier.

Myanmar's military regime staged a major show of force on Saturday for its annual Armed Forces Day parade, as the junta struggles to quell widespread protests against its rule weeks after seizing power.

Other media outlets reported at least seven protesters were wounded when security forces opened fire in various places.

Meanwhile, the military released Friday over 300 people who had been detained by security forces, including protesters. "The fact that so many children are being killed on an nearly daily basis shows a complete disregard for human life by security forces".

Another witness said he had seen a fourth body.

It said 11 people were killed on Thursday, when it also managed to verify 23 deaths that occurred previously.

Almost 330 people have died in demonstrations against the coup - including a large number killed by direct headshots from security forces - and more than 3,000 others have been arrested, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

"They shot all the people along the road while they chased to arrest protesters on motorbikes", he told AFP, saying security forces were still indiscriminately shooting in the area.

Reuters could not independently verify the numbers killed.

A military spokesperson did not respond to calls seeking comment.

But although many foreign governments have condemned the military's actions, Thomas Andrews, special United Nations rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said the diplomatic response was slow and called for an emergency summit on the crisis.

"Women, youth and children have been among those killed", she said in a statement.

"Learn the lesson from those who have brutally died.do not die for nothing", it said.

More protester deaths in Myanmar
Myanmar activists call for Armed Forces Day protests

Support from Russian Federation and China, which has also refrained from criticism, is important for the junta as they are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and can block potential UN actions.

The World Bank on Friday slashed its forecast for Myanmar's economy to a 10% contraction in 2021 from the growth expected previously.

Myanmar "has been heavily affected by protests, worker strikes, and military actions; reductions in mobility; and the ongoing disruption of critical public services in addition to banking, logistics, and internet services", it said.

Fomin's visit took place after the United States, Britain and the European Union imposed new sanctions on groups and individuals linked to the coup.

The US Treasury Department said its action against Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company and Myanmar Economic Corporation targets the army's control of large parts of the country's economy, "which is a vital financial lifeline for the military junta".

"This war has not ended until we win", one protester, Phone Naing, told Reuters.

The sanctions against the two companies and their holdings block access to any property they control in the USA and effectively bars any American or company from conducting any sort of business with them, including supplying them with funds or providing goods or services.

"The strongest storm comes after the silence", protest leader Ei Thinzar Maung said in a social media post. The mass release came two days after the military released about 630 detainees.

Myanmar news agencies, including the Democratic Voice of Burma and Mizzima, reported that three more people had been shot dead by security forces in the city of Myeik in southern Myanmar.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's most popular civilian politician, remains in detention at an undisclosed location.

The military has claimed there were irregularities in the voting rolls for last November's election, which Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won in a landslide.

At about 4 am Friday, an attacker hurled a Molotov cocktail at its Yangon HQ, causing a brief fire. There were no casualties and some furniture was damaged, it said.

The group also said that as of Thursday, 2,981 people had been arrested, charged or sentenced in the crackdown since February 1.

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