The southeast Asian country has been rocked by almost daily protests since the army overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government and installed the junta on February 1.

Demonstrators hold placards and a cutout with the image of Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, February 15, 2021.
Demonstrators hold placards and a cutout with the image of Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, February 15, 2021. (Reuters)

Myanmar anti-coup protesters have staged more rallies after the military reportedly shot dead nine people a day earlier and as the World Bank warned the country's economy could slump 10 percent this year due to the turmoil.

In a bid to increase pressure on the junta over the February 1 coup, the United States and Britain imposed sanctions on conglomerates controlled by the military, with Washington calling it a response to the military's "brutal repression".

Overnight vigils

Candle-lit protests took place across the country overnight including in the Mandalay and Sagaing regions, as well as in Karen and Chin states, media reports said

In Myanmar's second city of Mandalay, protesters marched on Friday morning in front of a "civil disobedience movement" banner, Mizzima news reported.

Over 300 killed

The death toll for protesters confirmed killed since last month’s coup has surpassed 300, a group that verifies details of deaths and arrests announced on Friday.

Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said its tally of 320 dead includes only documented cases, with the actual number of casualties “likely much higher.”

 It said 11 people were killed on Thursday, when it also managed to verify 23 deaths that occurred previously.

The group also said that as of Thursday, 2,981 people had been arrested, charged or sentenced in the crackdown since February 1.

Daily protests

Myanmar has been rocked by almost daily protests since the army overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government and installed the junta. Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her campaign to bring democratic civilian rule to Myanmar, and other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) are being held in detention.

At least 320 people have been killed in the subsequent crackdown, according to figures compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group.

The World Bank on Friday slashed its forecast for Myanmar's economy to a 10 percent contraction in 2021 from the growth expected previously.

Myanmar "has been heavily affected by protests, worker strikes, and military actions; reductions in mobility; and the ongoing disruption of critical public services in addition to banking, logistics, and internet services", it said.

READ MORE: Several reported dead in Myanmar as forces open fire on protesters

US and British sanctions 

In Washington, the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions targeting Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited.

Both are part of a military-controlled network which spans sectors from mining to tourism and has enriched the generals. Representatives for the two entities had no immediate comment.

"These actions will specifically target those who led the coup, the economic interests of the military, and the funding streams supporting the Burmese military's brutal repression," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

In a move coordinated with the United States, former colonial power Britain said it would also target Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, citing human rights violations against civilians and its association with senior military figures.

The European Union announced sanctions on 11 individuals on Monday and is expected to target the conglomerates soon.

But although many foreign governments have condemned the military's actions, Thomas Andrews, special UN rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said the diplomatic response was slow and called for an emergency summit on the crisis.

READ MORE: Myanmar anti-coup activists plan new street protests after silent strike

Army Day

The AAPP recorded nine deaths of protesters at the hands of the security forces on Thursday.

Other media outlets reported at least seven protesters were wounded when security forces opened fire in various places. Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

The military was trying to stifle protests before Armed Forces Day on Saturday, the AAPP said.

The day commemorates the launch of armed resistance against Japanese occupation in 1945 and typically involves military parades through the capital Naypyidaw.

A military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Residents said that after dark on Thursday, soldiers raided Yangon's Mingalar Taungnyunt district and arrested people on the streets after curfew. Residents heard bangs that could be either stun grenades or gunfire, they said.

One resident said soldiers had shot at his building every night this week and checked houses they deemed suspicious.

"Even if they find nothing, they take everything they want," he told Reuters.

The junta has tried to justify the takeover by saying a November 8 election won by Suu Kyi's NLD was fraudulent - an accusation the electoral commission has rejected. Military leaders have promised a new election but have not set a date and have declared a state of emergency.

READ MORE: Myanmar army continues lethal crackdown after deadliest weekend on record

Source: Reuters