Violence escalated in Myanmar on Monday as authorities continued to crack down on people protesting against the military coup that took place on February 1.
Witnesses reported that two protesters were killed and several injured as police opened fire in the northern town of Myitkyina.
Police fired tear gas at a crowd of around 1,000 in the capital, Naypyitaw. Thousands of protesters abandoned a march in the city of Mandalay over fears of violence by security forces.
General strike in Myanmar
The latest demonstrations followed an appeal by trade unions for mass walkouts to bring the economy to a standstill.
At least nine unions from a range of sectors, including construction, agriculture and manufacturing, said that "all Myanmar people" should stop work in order to reverse the military coup. They also called for the restoration of the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
"The time to take action in defense of our democracy is now," the unions said in a statement. It added that allowing economic activity to continue as usual would help the military "as they repress the energy of the Myanmar people."
More than 50 killed in protests
The country has been in a state of turmoil since last month's coup ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from power, sparking mass protests against the military junta.
Protests are being held almost daily nationwide despite the use of deadly force by security forces.
Authorities have responded with an increasingly brutal crackdown on protesters. According to UN figures, more than 50 people have been killed and nearly 1,800 arrested.
Myanmar’s military generals have shown no sign of listening to calls for restraint despite mounting international pressure, including targeted sanctions by Western powers.
Australia halts defense cooperation
Meanwhile, Australia has suspended its defense cooperation with Myanmar and is redirecting humanitarian aid in the country because of last month's military takeover.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Canberra made the move in response to the detention of economic policy adviser Sean Turnell.
Payne said Monday that diplomats and relatives had only been able to contact Turnell twice by phone since he was seized in early February.