Security forces in Myanmar opened fire to disperse protesters at a power plant on Sunday and armoured vehicles rolled into major cities as the new army rulers faced a ninth day of anti-coup demonstrations that saw hundreds of thousands on the streets.
Soldiers were deployed to power plants in the northern state of Kachin, leading to a confrontation with demonstrators, some of who said they believed the army intended to cut off the electricity.
The security forces fired to disperse protesters outside one plant in Kachin's state capital Myitkyina, footage broadcast live on Facebook showed, although it was not clear if they were using rubber bullets or live fire.
As evening fell, armoured vehicles appeared in the commercial capital of Yangon, Myitkyina and Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, live footage broadcast online by local media showed, the first large-scale rollout of such vehicles across the country since the Feb. 1 coup.
The government and army could not be reached for comment.
The U.S embassy in Myanmar urged American citizens to "shelter in place", citing reports of the military movements in Yangon. It also warned there was a possibility of a telecoms interruptions overnight between 1:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.
As well as the mass protests across Myanmar, the country's military rulers were faced with a strike by government workers, part of a civil disobedience movement to protest against the coup that deposed the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
Trains in parts of the country stopped running after staff refused to go to work, local media reported, while the military deployed soldiers to power plants where they were confronted by angry crowds.
The junta ordered civil servants to go back to work, threatening action. The army has been carrying out nightly mass arrests and on Saturday gave itself sweeping powers to detain people and search private property.
But hundreds of railway workers joined demonstrations in Yangon on Sunday, even as police went to their housing compound on the outskirts of the city to order them back to work. The police were forced to leave after angry crowds gathered, according to a live broadcast by Myanmar Now.
Richard Horsey, a Myanmar-based analyst with the International Crisis Group, said the work of many government departments had effectively ground to a halt.
"This has the potential to also affect vital functions – the military can replace engineers and doctors, but not power grid controllers and central bankers," he said.
PROTESTS ACROSS NATION
Hundreds of thousands of people protested across the nation after a fearful night as residents formed patrols and the army rolled back laws protecting freedoms.
Engineering students marched through downtown Yangon, the biggest city, wearing white and carrying placards demanding the release of ousted leader Suu Kyi, who has been in detention since the coup and charged with importing walkie-talkies.
A fleet of highway buses rolled slowly through the city with horns blaring, part of the biggest street protests in more than a decade.
A convoy of motorbikes and cars drove through the capital Naypyitaw. In the southeastern coastal town of Dawei, a band played drums as crowds marched under the hot sun. In Waimaw, in Kachin state, crowds carried flags and sang revolutionary songs.
Many of the protesters nationwide held up images of Suu Kyi.
Her detention is due to expire on Monday. Her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, could not be reached for comment on what was set to happen.
More than 384 people have been detained since the coup, the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said, in a wave of mostly nightly arrests.
"While the international community is condemning the coup, Min Aung Hlaing is using every tool he has to instigate fears and instabilities," activist Wai Hnin Pwint Thon from the UK-based rights group Burma Campaign UK said on Twitter, referring to the military ruler.
'STOP KIDNAPPING PEOPLE'
Residents banded together late on Saturday to patrol streets in Yangon and the country's second-largest city Mandalay, fearing arrest raids as well as common crime.
Worries about crime rose after the junta announced on Friday it would free 23,000 prisoners, saying the move was consistent with "establishing a new democratic state with peace, development and discipline".
Tin Myint, a Yangon resident, was among the crowds who detained a group of four people suspected of carrying out an attack in the neighbourhood.
"We think the military intends to cause violence with these criminals by infiltrating them into peaceful protests," he said.
He cited pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988, when the military was widely accused of releasing criminals into the population to stage attacks, later citing the unrest as a justification for extending their own power.
Also late on Saturday, the army reinstated a law requiring people to report overnight visitors to their homes, allowed security forces to detain suspects and search private property without court approval, and ordered the arrest of well-known backers of mass protests.
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in a November election that the army said was tainted with fraud - an accusation dismissed by the electoral commission.