The United States is “shocked” by the bloodshed in Myanmar, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday, after a bloody day of protests in the country since the outbreak of hostilities last month.
Violent attacks by protesters by Myanmar security forces have shown that the junta “will donate human life to serve the few,” Blinken tweeted.
“Courageous Burmese people reject military rule,” he added, using the name the country had until it was replaced by its then military rulers in 1989.
His assassination comes after a massacre during a military coup on Saturday in a bloodbath that the military has taken over since February 1, ousting Aung San Suu Kyi.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s really sad,” said President Joe Biden on Sunday as he returned from Delaware en route to the White House. “And according to my report, a lot of people have been killed unnecessarily.”
The online news site Myanmar Now reported late Saturday that the death toll had risen to at least 114, including a 13-year-old girl. An independent watchdog, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, put the death toll on Saturday at 90, adding that 423 people had been killed since the dawn of power.
Despite the violence, protesters returned to the streets on Sunday to demand their return to democracy in Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s largest cities, and the country. More protests were also met with police as funerals of those killed on Saturday were held across the country.
In a powerful statement on Saturday, the U.S. ambassador to Myanmar, Thomas Vajda, also accused the country’s security forces of “killing unarmed civilians, including children, the very people they have sworn to protect.”
“These are not acts of technical or police warfare,” Vajda said. “The people of Myanmar have spoken out loud: they do not want to live under a military regime.”
The U.S. ambassador said in a tweet that a gunshot was fired Saturday at its cultural center in Yangon, although no one was injured.
A joint statement from security officials from 12 countries, including the U.S., Germany, the U.K. and Japan among others, also condemned the violence. “We urge the Myanmar Armed Forces to stop the violence and work to restore the dignity and loyalty of the Myanmar people who have lost their lives,” the statement said.
On Twitter, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called the reports of violence “a major disruption.”
However, UN special envoy Tom Andrews called for “strong, concerted action” and not just condemnation of bloodshed, saying in a statement “they are bragging about the Myanmar people while the military is killing a lot of people.”
The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a Myanmar military base celebrating the annual Military Day with a display in the country’s capital.
Junta official Senior General Min Aung Hlaing did not directly address the protest when he delivered his Military Military Day speech in front of thousands of soldiers in Naypyitaw on Saturday. He spoke only of “terrorism that could be a threat to the peace and security of the state,” and called it “unacceptable.”
In recent days the junta has branded protesters as violent because of their occasional use of Moloto cocktails.
On Saturday some protesters in Yangon were seen carrying arrows and arrows.
In contrast, security forces allegedly used live ammunition for weeks to protest what had been large unarmed mobs and peace.