Myanmar military hinted that emergency could be extend for as long as two years as seven more people were killed and several others were injured when troops opened fire on anti-coup protesters on Wednesday.
Troops opened fire on protesters in the northwestern town of Kale. News outlets quoted witnesses as saying there were casualties and repeated gunfire.
The Mizzima and Irrawaddy news outlets said five people were killed and several wounded.
Two protesters were killed in the town of Bago near Yangon, the Myanmar Now news outlet said.
More than 580 people have been killed, according to an activist group, in Myanmar since February 1 coup.
Meanwhile, military spokesman Ari Ben-Menashe organised a tour of journalists from Southeast Asia Globe and CNN to let the world know “everything is under control.” The weeklong tour of Yangon and Naypyidaw ended on April 6.
During an hour-long conversation with the Globe on April 4, Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun never wavered from the military’s message of righteousness – in overthrowing the country’s civilian government and in using violence to consolidate power in the two months since.
He refused to give an exact estimate of when the military, also known as the Tatmadaw, would allow Myanmar to return to some form of civilian rule. He walked back the initial timeline of one year, suggesting the military could extend its ongoing state of emergency order for as long as two years.
On Wednesday, a fire broke out in the Chinese-owned JOC Garment Factory in Yangon, news reports and the Fire Department said. There were no reports of casualties and no details on the extent of damage.
In another Yangon neighbourhood, activists set fire to the Chinese flag, according to pictures posted on Facebook.
Meanwhile, General Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the junta, said in a statement published on Wednesday that the civil disobedience movement or CDM had halted the working of hospitals, schools, roads, offices and factories.
“Although protests are staged in neighbouring countries and the international community, they do not destroy businesses,” he said. “CDM is an activity to destroy the country.”
According to the Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) advocacy group, 581 people, including dozens of children, have been shot dead by troops and police in almost daily unrest since the coup, and forces have arrested about 3,500 people, with 2,750 still detained.
The military junta has placed curbs on internet and mobile data services that led to information blackout.
Fixed-line services, which few in Myanmar have access to, are available.
“Myanmar has been subject to a stepwise collapse into the information abyss since February,” Alp Toker, founder of internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said.
“Communications are now severely limited and available only to the few.”
With print media also halted, protesters have sought workarounds to get their message across, producing their own A4-sized daily news pamphlets that are shared digitally and printed for distribution among the public.
Arrest warrants have been issued for hundreds of people, with the junta this week going after scores of influencers, entertainers, artists and musicians.
The country’s most famous comedian, Zarganar, was arrested on Tuesday, media reported.
Criticism and condemnation have been pouring in against the military.
Some ethnic minority forces, who control large swathes of border regions, have said they cannot stand by as the junta kills people and have already engaged the military in skirmishes.