Myanmar forces kill 18 anti-coup protesters

Protesters in Yangon Myanmar assist a man injured during a confrontation with security forces on Sunday. | THE NEW YORK TIMES

The army said it took power after its accusations of fraud in a November 8 election won by veteran democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party were rejected by the electoral commission.

More than 80 people had been killed as of Saturday in widespread protests against the military's seizure of power last month, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group said.

Photos and videos posted on social media showed long convoys of trucks entering Yangon.

The latest deaths bring the toll from the protests to about 140, based on a tally by the AAPP and the latest reports.

The United Nations' (UN) envoy for Myanmar strongly condemned the bloodshed, stating that the global community, "including regional actors, must come together in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and their democratic aspirations".

Protest leader Thinzar Shunlei Yi said Myanmar people did not hate their Chinese neighbours but China's rulers had to understand the outrage felt in Myanmar over their stand.

The ongoing brutality "severely undermines any prospects for peace and stability" in the country, she said.

Complicating efforts to organize new protests, as well as media coverage of the crisis, cellphone internet service has been cut, although access is still available through fixed broadband connections. The Chinese Embassy in Yangon has accused protesters of attacking the factories. Previously, the services were only turned off at night.

Ms Suu Kyi, 75, has been detained since the coup and faces various charges, including allegedly illegally importing walkie-talkie radios and breaking coronavirus protocols. The phrases "Freedom from Fear" and "Spring Revolution", as well as the face of Aung San Suu Kyi, are increasingly on display on protesters' bodies.

More than 80 have been killed, but the number is expected to increase dramatically after Sunday's violence - marking it as one of the deadliest days as Myanmar enters its seventh week under a junta regime.

The junta "gives administrative and judicial martial law power to the Yangon regional commander to practice (in Hlaing Tharyar and Shwepyitha townships).to perform security, maintain the rule of law and tranquillity more effectively", said an announcer on state-run television news.

The bulk of the deaths on Sunday came from a clash in a garment-producing district in the capital Yangon where multiple Chinese-owned factories were razed.

Despite the growing death toll, protesters have continued taking to the streets - Sunday saw sit-ins in commercial hub Yangon, marches through the coastal city of Dawei, and civil servants hoisting Suu Kyi's poster defiantly at a gather in the central city of Monywa.

Carrying iron bars, axes and gasoline, the attackers assaulted security guards and set fires at the entrances to several factories and in several warehouses, China's national broadcaster CGTN reported.

In Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city, protesters retrieved the injured from the street, running to safety after police opened fire on them, according to AFP reporters on the ground.

Protestors take cover behind homemade shields as they confront the security forces. On Sunday, security forces opened fire as black smoke billowed from factories.

"Chinese government must stop supporting coup council if they actually care about Sino-Myanmar relations and to protect their businesses", she said on Twitter. It has been declared treasonous by the junta.

Civilians in Myanmar have been protesting the usurpation of their government by the military, known as the Tatmadaw, since February 1 and amid escalating use of violence by security forces, resulting in a climbing death toll.

The area around the small city of Dawei has become a hot spot for resistance to the military takeover.