Dozens of people have been killed by security forces in Myanmar, on the deadliest day since last month’s military takeover of the country.
At least 89 deaths, including children, were recorded by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a local monitoring group, reports the BBC.
“They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our homes,” resident Thu Ya Zaw told Reuters news agency in the central town of Myingyan.
“We will keep protesting regardless.”
The lethal crackdown came as protesters defied warnings and took to the streets on the annual Armed Forces Day.
US, UK and EU officials condemned the violence, with British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab calling it a “new low”.
The latest deaths would take the number killed in the suppression of protests in Myanmar since the 1 February coup to more than 400.
The military seized control of the South East Asian country after an election which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.
What is happening on the streets?
Defying military threats, protesters gathered across Myanmar, also known as Burma, on Saturday.
State TV had warned in a broadcast the previous day that people “should learn from the tragedy of earlier ugly deaths that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back”.
Security forces were out in strength trying to prevent rallies.
Images shared on social media showed people with gunshot wounds and families mourning.
The director of the Burma Human Rights Network in UK told the BBC the military had shown it had “no limits, no principles”.
“It’s a massacre, it’s not a crackdown anymore,” Kyaw Win said.
The AAPP, which has been tracking the numbers of people killed and detained since the coup, said it expected Saturday’s death toll to rise.
Local news site Myanmar Now put the toll at more than 90, while the United Nations said it was receiving reports of “scores killed” and hundreds more injured across 40 locations.
In the main city Yangon, gunshots were fired at the US cultural centre. The US embassy said those shots caused no injuries.
Among the dead were four outside a police station in Yangon’s Dala suburb, Myanmar Now reported.
Witnesses and sources told BBC Burmese of protester deaths in the cities and townships of Magway, Mogok, Kyaukpadaung and Mayangone.
Deaths were also reported on the streets of the second-largest city Mandalay, as protesters carried the flag of the NLD and gave their now traditional anti-authoritarian three-finger salute.