Military accuses ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi of accepting illegal payments worth $600,000 as well as gold, while nine people are killed during protests against the coup.

People shout slogans and light candles to honour Chit Min Thu, where he was shot during an anti-coup protest in North Dagon Town, Yangon, Myanmar, March 11, 2021.
People shout slogans and light candles to honour Chit Min Thu, where he was shot during an anti-coup protest in North Dagon Town, Yangon, Myanmar, March 11, 2021. (AP)

Nine protesters have been shot dead in Myanmar as the junta reacted to international condemnation of its crackdown by claiming ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi had accepted hefty illegal payments.

The United Nations on Wednesday condemned the junta's increasingly violent crackdown, which has seen more than 60 killed and 2,000 arrested, with even China, a traditional Myanmar ally, calling for "de-escalation" and dialogue.

Thursday saw more hardline action against demonstrators, with six killed in central Myanmar's Myaing township when forces fired on a protest, a man who took part in the demonstration and helped carry bodies to hospital told Reuters by telephone. 

A health worker there confirmed all six deaths.

"We protested peacefully," the 31-year-old man said. "I couldn't believe they did it."

One person was killed in the North Dagon district of the biggest city of Yangon, domestic media said. Photographs posted on Facebook showed a man lying prone on the street, bleeding from a head wound. 

One death was reported in Mandalay city. 

In Bago, a city north east of Yangon, Zaw Zaw Aung, 33, who is deaf, was shot in the head, his father Myint Lwin told AFP.

"As a father, I am deeply sad for his death," he said.

A rescue worker told AFP a 30-year-old man was killed in Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city and another two people were injured.

"We couldn't pick up his dead body because rescue teams are being targeted these days as well," he said.

There was also a fatality in Yangon's North Dagon, where Chit Min Thu, 25, died after being shot in the head.

"I recently learnt that his wife is two months pregnant," his mother Hnin Malar Aung told AFP.

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Military says Suu Kyi accepted illegal payments

A military spokesman declined to comment on Thursday's violence.

The junta has previously said it is acting with utmost restraint in handling what it describes as demonstrations by "riotous protesters" whom it accuses of attacking police and harming national security and stability.

The spokesman, Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, told a news conference in the capital, Naypyitaw, that Aung San Suu Kyi had accepted illegal payments worth $600,000 as well as gold while in government.

The information had been verified and many people were being questioned, he added.

He said President Win Myint and several cabinet ministers had also engaged in corruption and that he had pressured the country's election commission not to act on the military's reports of irregularities.

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'We will revolt'

Pro-democracy protesters also marched in the town of Tamu in Chin State chanting: "Will we revolt or will we serve them? We will revolt."

A Reuters witness said there was also a small rally in the Sanchaung area of Yangon, a district where security forces this week fired guns and used stun grenades as they checked houses to hunt down protesters.

Overnight people defied a curfew to hold several more candle lit vigils in parts of Yangon and also in Myingyan, south west of the second city of Mandalay.

More than 60 protesters have been killed and some 2,000 people have been detained by security forces since the February 1 coup against Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government.

Amnesty on extrajudicial executions

Also on Thursday, Amnesty International said that it has verified more than 50 videos from the crackdown, in which the United Nations says security forces have killed at least 60 protesters. 

It said many killings documented amounted to extrajudicial executions.

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Army units behind Rohingya massacres 

Amnesty accused the army of using weapons suitable for the battlefield to kill protesters. 

It said they were in the hands of units accused by rights groups of years of atrocities against minority ethnic groups, including Rohingya Muslims.

"These are not the actions of overwhelmed, individual officers making poor decisions," said Joanne Mariner, Director of Crisis Response at Amnesty International.

"These are unrepentant commanders already implicated in crimes against humanity, deploying their troops and murderous methods in the open."

Release of prisoners sought 

Amnesty said weapons used included sniper rifles and light machine guns, as well as assault rifles and sub-machine guns.

It called for a stop to the killings and for the release of detainees.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says nearly 2,000 people have been detained since the coup.

In justifying its takeover, the army cited alleged fraud in a November election that Suu Kyi's party had won. 

Its accusations had been dismissed by the electoral commission.

READ MORE: Myanmar's anti-coup protests turn deadly again after police open fire

Arakan Army removed from terror list 

Meanwhile, state media said the junta has removed Arakan Army (AA) insurgents from its list of terrorist groups because the faction has stopped attacks and in order to help establish peace across the country.

The move comes at a time the army is struggling to contain daily protests against the coup.

The AA is fighting for greater autonomy in the western Rakhine state and had become one of the most formidable forces in challenging an army that has been fighting various ethnic wars for seven decades.

UNSC fails to condemn coup

In New York, the United Nations Security Council condemned violence against peaceful protesters and called for the military to "exercise utmost restraint".

But language that would have condemned the coup and threatened possible further action was removed from the British-drafted text on Wednesday, due to opposition by China, Russia, India and Vietnam.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he hoped the Security Council statement would push the military to realize it "is absolutely essential" that all prisoners are released and that the results of a November election are respected.

The army has justified the coup by saying that the election, won by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, was marred by fraud - an assertion rejected by the electoral commission. The junta has promised a new election within a year, but has not set a date.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies