Mandalay [Myanmar] March 25 (ANI): Protestors in Myanmar on Wednesday had called for a "silent strike" and photos from local media showed empty streets and deserted roads in the country.
This 'silent strike' comes as Myanmar's security forces shot dead a seven-year-old girl in the city of Mandalay on Tuesday, the youngest victim yet in the military's crackdown on civilian opposition to the February 1 coup.
The young girl was killed in her home during a military raid, according to advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), according to CNN.
The report, quoting Myanmar Now that cited relatives and local news outlet, stated that the girl, named Khin Myo Chit, was shot while sitting in her father's lap after security forces kicked down the door to the family's home.
On Wednesday, several hundred prisoners, arrested during crackdowns against opponents of the coup, were freed from prison, as per media reports.
"Soldiers asked the father if everyone in the family was present in the house -- when the father said yes, they accused him of lying and shot at him, hitting the girl instead, Myanmar Now reported, quoting the victim's older sister," according to CNN.
At least 275 people have been killed since the coup, according to AAPP, though activists say the death toll is likely much higher. More than 20 of those deaths are children, humanitarian organization Save the Children said.
"We are horrified that children continue to be among the targets of these fatal attacks on peaceful protestors. The death of these children is especially concerning given that they reportedly were killed while being at home, where they should have been safe from harm," Save the Children said in a statement Tuesday as quoted by CNN.
"The fact that so many children are being killed on an almost daily basis shows a complete disregard for human life by security forces."
However, Myanmar's military has not yet officially commented on the death of the 7-year-old girl but has repeatedly defended security forces' response to the protesters, saying they use minimal force.
On Tuesday, military spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said in a televised news conference he felt "sorry" for citizens' loss of life but blamed protesters for unrest and destruction of property.
As of Tuesday, Save the Children said it has responded to 146 cases of child arrests or detentions, and at least 488 students are currently being held by security forces. Many people have been taken arbitrarily in nighttime raids and their families do not know where their loved ones are, or what condition they are in, the United Nations said, CNN reported.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced new sanctions against Myanmar's chief of police, Than Hlaing, and its Bureau of Special Operations commander, Lt. Gen. Aung Soe, as well as two army units long implicated in human rights abuses in ethnic areas. Meanwhile, the EU designated 11 individuals associated with the coup and related violence. (ANI)