Martial law imposed in parts of Myanmar city as deaths rise

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Anti-coup protesters surround an injured man in Hlaing Thar Yartownship in Yangon, Myanmar Sunday, March 14, 2021. A number of people were shot dead during protests in Myanmar's largest city on Sunday, as security forces continued their violent crackdown against dissent following last month's military coup. (AP Photo)

MANDALAY – Myanmar's ruling junta has declared martial law in parts of the country's largest city as security forces killed more protesters in an increasingly lethal crackdown on resistance to last month's military coup.

At least 38 people were killed Sunday and dozens were injured in one of the deadliest days of the crackdown, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an independent group tracking the toll of the violence.

Most of those killed — 34 — were in Yangon, where two townships, Hlaing Thar Yar and neighboring Shwepyitha were being placed under martial law.

Video from Hlaing Thar Yar township showed people running away after gunfire was heard. Those fleeing carried one injured person and tried to revive two others, one who seemed to be dead or dying, the footage from independent Democratic Voice of Burma showed.

Hlaing Thar Yar was the location of 22 civilian deaths Sunday, according to the aid group, which said more than a dozen civilians were wounded and described a large number of junta forces engaged in the township.

Since the takeover six weeks ago, Myanmar has been under a nationwide state of emergency, with its civilian leaders ousted and detained and military leaders in charge of all government. But the announcement on state broadcaster MRTV late Sunday appeared to be the first use of the term martial law since the coup and suggested more direct military control of security, instead of local police.

The announcement said the State Administrative Council acted to enhance security and restore law and order and said the Yangon regional commander has been entrusted with administrative, judicial and military powers in the area under his command.

Four other deaths were reported in Bago, Mandalay, and the northern city of Hpakant in Kachin state, according to the aid group and local media.