Mandalay, 8 people killed, including a 14-year-old boy
by Francis Khoo Thwe

About 300 soldiers entered a neighbourhood to clear the activists' barricades. Seven weeks after the coup, the death toll has reached 261. The army spokesman blames violence on demonstrators and recalls that nine soldiers have also died. The European Union imposes sanctions on 11 junta generals. Indonesia and Malaysia are pushing for an urgent ASEAN meeting.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - A 14-year-old boy is among the 8 people killed yesterday in Mandalay by the security forces who entered the Chanmyathazi residential neighborhood to clear the barricades built by activists to defend their strike and civil disobedience.

Chanmyathazi is a neighbourhood where many civil servants and retirees live. Others killed include an unidentified woman; the others are between 19 and 38 years old. Two of the murdered died while trying to recover the bodies of their lifeless comrades.

According to Myanmar Now, there were at least 300 soldiers and dozens of arrests. The Association for Aid to Political Prisoners says that the number of people killed by the junta in the seven weeks since the coup has reached 261 victims.

Although the number of dead is growing, demonstrations are also multiplying, trying to avoid direct clashes with soldiers. In Yangon marches are held on side streets of the road where the security forces are stationed, or there are gatherings at night, by candles light.

In other cities, balloons with messages are used, or mannequins with signs critical of the junta.

The western international community has condemned the coup and demands the release of political prisoners.

Yesterday the European Union (EU) imposed sanctions on 11 generals who ousted the democratic government. They include current head of the junta, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, already hit by sanctions in 2018 for his work against the Rohingya.

The EU has also implemented an embargo on the sale of arms to Myanmar. Some European diplomats have said that in the near future they will move to sanctions against commercial activities held by the military.

Until now, the junta had remained silent without any sign or reaction to the barrage of global criticism. This afternoon, the junta spokesman, Zaw Min Tun, criticized the violence of activists and demonstrators, citing the fires that broke out in the Chinese factory district in Yangon as a justification for the army’s violence against them. Zaw also said nine soldiers have died so far.

He then repeated the allegations of fraud in the elections last November and those of corruption for Aung San Suu Kyi, showing videos of "witnesses".

Zaw’s intervention appears to be aimed at justifying the attitude of China, India and the ASEAN countries that are Myanmar’s major trading partners, which continue not to condemn the coup. However, Indonesia and Malaysia are pushing for an urgent ASEAN meeting to discuss the Burmese crisis.