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.
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".
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.
26.3.2021— Purple Wings for BTS (@PurplewingsMm) March 26, 2021
This morning, US Embassy #Myanmar put a floral wreath at the place where a protestor (Nyi Nyi) lost his life due to gunshot by Military.
Soon after that, the military removed that floral wreath. See? How cruel the military is.#Mar26Coup#WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/5MdanY2K8k
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.
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.
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.
Statement by Dr Sasa regarding USA and UK sanctions on military Generals’ business Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) pic.twitter.com/nTtCxwKEWe— Dr. Sasa (@DrSasa22222) March 26, 2021
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.
Ethnic minorities in #Myanmar need rights and protection. I visited this woman in Kachin in an IDP camp in 2018. After the coup began, her rights and return to her place of origin are increasingly in danger. Democracy must therefore be reinstated! pic.twitter.com/ziSkhaG6Ja— Special Envoy of UN Secretary-General on Myanmar (@SchranerBurgen1) March 25, 2021
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.
I called for an Emergency Summit on Myanmar today in a news release from Geneva and before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee's East Asia Subcommittee. Tough, coordinated international pressure on the junta is imperative. https://t.co/PhmehoWXn5https://t.co/VFtxeCJUhG pic.twitter.com/Ew8v4tZT22— UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews (@RapporteurUn) March 25, 2021
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.
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.
Another impressive & cool protest idea and protest by University Students, Mandalay, holding signs that speak key messages that our Myanmar People urge and demand.— Moon House (@MoonHou79169145) March 26, 2021
INTERNET DARK ERA#WhatsHappeningInMyanmar #Mar26Coup pic.twitter.com/X593wiLL9v
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.