The Myanmar military declared martial law in parts of the country's largest city, Yangon, after mounting a deadly response on Sunday to protesters’ ongoing rallies against last month’s coup.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an independent group, documented at least 38 deaths and dozens of injuries in demonstrations across Myanmar on Sunday, The Associated Press reported.
At least 34 of these deaths occurred in Yangon, where the military put townships Hlaing Thar Yar and Shwepyitha under martial law, according to state broadcaster MRTV.
The broadcaster’s announcement, which came late Sunday, appeared to be the first time the words martial law have been used since the Feb. 1 coup, the AP noted, suggesting more severe military control.
Hlaing Thar Yar saw at least 22 civilian deaths and more than a dozen civilian injuries on Sunday as the military was deployed in the area. Footage shown by the Democratic Voice of Burma from the township showed people fleeing as gunshots were heard, including some carrying an injured person and attempting to revive two others.
The AP noted that the exact death toll is likely higher than reported as police allegedly took some bodies and some injuries would be hard for clinics to treat as security forces maintain control of the hospitals.
The Myanmar military overtook the government last month from leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, claiming that the recent election results that delivered wins for her party occurred because of election fraud and irregularities. The country’s election commission has dismissed claims of fraud.
In his first address since the coup, the civilian leader of Myanmar’s government in hiding committed on Saturday to backing a “revolution” to remove the military control.
“This is the darkest moment of the nation and the moment that the dawn is close,” Win Khaing Than said, according to the AP.
“We will never give up to an unjust military, but we will carve our future together with our united power,” he added. “Our mission must be accomplished.”