At least 43 children have died in violence during Myanmar’s coup, according to reports described as “horrifying”.
The death toll of children has more than doubled in the past 12 days and the total number of people killed now stands at 521, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) says.
A total of 15 children under the age of 16 are among the casualties, including children aged nine and 11.
Among those killed were a 13-year-old boy who was reportedly shot in the head while trying to run away from armed forces, and a 14-year-old Mandalay boy who was reportedly shot dead while he was inside or around his home.
Among those injured was a one-year-old baby who was reportedly shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.
Heavy clashes have erupted between protesters and the ruling junta – which has cut internet connections, imposed a curfew and a law banning more than five people from congregating in an effort to stop demonstrations that have sprung up since the takeover.
Some members of security forces have used extreme violence – driving tanks into major cities and opening fire on the crowds.
Charity Save the Children described the situation as “a nightmare scenario”.
It said: “We are shocked that children continue to be among the targets of these fatal attacks, despite repeated calls to protect children from harm.
“It is especially horrifying that several of these children were reportedly killed at home, where they should have been safe from harm.
“Innocent children have had their futures brutally and needlessly snatched away from them.
“Grieving families – among them young children who have seen siblings die – are suffering unimaginable loss and pain.
“Children have witnessed violence and horror. It is clear that Myanmar is no longer a safe place for children.”
Britain is imposing further measures against Myanmar with sanctions against the military-linked Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) conglomerate, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has announced.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said the decision to target the MEC was in response to “credible evidence” that it had contributed funds to the Myanmar military, which was responsible for serious human rights violations across the country.
The ruling will prohibit funds and economic resources being made available to any subsidiaries “owned or controlled” by MEC as defined by the Global Human Rights sanctions regime.
Mr Raab said: “Two months on from the start of the coup, the Myanmar military has sunk to a new low with the wanton killing of innocent people, including children.
“The UK’s latest actions target one of the military’s key funding streams and impose a further cost on them for their violations of human rights.”
The UK had already imposed some sanctions on individuals connected with human rights abuses, pledged to ensure aid cannot be used to support the military and said UK businesses should not trade with military-owned companies.
The US has followed suit with a raft of its own sanctions.