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Security guard wounded in blast at military-owned bank in Myanmar as civilian death toll tops 700

Protesters took to the streets of Myanmar's two largest cities on Sunday as the civilian death toll from the military's brutal crackdown on dissent topped more than 700. 

The country has been in turmoil since the military removed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup on February 1. 

On Sunday morning, a security guard was wounded in a bomb blast outside a military-owned bank in Mandalay.

There was a heavy security presence in the area after the explosion at Myawaddy Bank's biggest branch in the city, local media reported.

The bank is one of scores of military-controlled businesses that have faced boycott pressure since the coup, with many customers demanding to withdraw their savings.   

Protesters took to the streets of Myanmar's two largest cities on Sunday as the civilian death toll from the military's brutal crackdown on dissent topped more than 700. Pictured: A protest in Mandalay on Sunday

Pictured: Protests in Mandalay on Sunday flash the three-finger salute from The Hunger Games film franchise, which has become a symbol of defiance adopted pro-democracy protesters across Asia

Demonstrations against the military takeover continue despite a huge civilian death toll, which has only risen in recent days. 

On Saturday, a local monitoring group said security forces gunned down and killed 82 anti-coup protesters the previous day in the city of Bago, 65 kilometres (40 miles) northeast of Yangon.

AFP-verified footage shot early on Friday showed protesters hiding behind sandbag barricades wielding homemade rifles, as explosions were heard in the background. 

The United Nations office in Myanmar tweeted late on Saturday that it was following the bloodshed in Bago, where it said medical treatment had been denied to the injured. 

Overall, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has verified 701 civilian deaths since February 1. 

The military, known as the Tatmadaw, has a much lower number - 248 deaths, according to a spokesman on Friday. 

The country has been in turmoil since the military removed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup on February 1. Pictured: A protester with a homemade weapon flashes the three-finger salute during a demonstration in Mandalay on Sunday

University students and their professors marched through the streets of Mandalay and the city of Meiktila on Sunday morning, according to local media. Pictured: Demonstrators in Mandalay on Sunday

Protests continued to rally in parts of the country.

University students and their professors marched through the streets of Mandalay and the city of Meiktila on Sunday morning, according to local media. 

Some carried stems of Eugenia flowers - a symbol of victory.

In Yangon, protesters carried a banner that read: 'We will get victory, we will win.'

Protesters there, as well as in the city of Monywa, took to writing political messages on leaves including 'we must win' and calling for UN intervention to prevent further bloodshed.

Unrest also erupted on Saturday in the northwestern town of Tamu, near the Indian border, where protesters fought back when soldiers tried to tear down makeshift barricades erected to block security forces.

Two civilians were killed when soldiers started randomly shooting, a local said, with protesters retaliating by throwing a bomb that exploded and overturned a military truck, killing more than a dozen soldiers.

On Saturday, a local monitoring group said security forces gunned down and killed 82 anti-coup protesters the previous day in the city of Bago, 65 kilometres (40 miles) northeast of Yangon. Pictured: Demonstrators carry flags during an anti-coup protest in Mandalay on Sunday

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has verified 701 civilian deaths since February 1. The military, known as the Tatmadaw, has a much lower number - 248 deaths, according to a spokesman on Friday. Pictured: Children and others flash the three-finger salute during a protest in Mandalay on Sunday

'Some are in hiding - we are worried that our people will be hurt as a reprisal,' the resident told AFP news agency. 

The mounting bloodshed has also angered some of Myanmar's 20 or so armed ethnic groups, who control swathes of territory mostly in border regions.

There were clashes on Saturday in the northern Shan state, as the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), an ethnic rebel group, mounted a pre-dawn attack on a police station, the TNLA's Brigadier General Tar Bhone Kyaw said without giving details. 

The mounting bloodshed has also angered some of Myanmar's 20 or so armed ethnic groups, who control swathes of territory mostly in border regions. Pictured: Demonstrators hold a banner emblazoned with the three-finger salute during a protest in Yangon on Sunday

State media reported on Friday that 19 people had been sentenced to death for robbery and murder by a military court, with 17 of them being tried in absentia. Pictured: Demonstrators flash the three-finger salute next to a banner emblazoned with the symbol during a protest in Yangon on Sunday

Local media reported that more than a dozen police officers were killed, while the TNLA said the military had retaliated with air strikes on its troops, killing at least one rebel soldier. 

State-run television reported in the evening that 'terrorist armed groups' attacked the police station with heavy weaponry and set it on fire.

Meanwhile, state media reported on Friday that 19 people had been sentenced to death for robbery and murder by a military court, with 17 of them being tried in absentia.

Protesters in Yangon, as well as in the city of Monywa, took to writing political messages on leaves including 'we must win' and calling for UN intervention to prevent further bloodshed

Messages written by protesters as part of a 'Green Day Strike' on Sunday criticise the death sentence and 'crimes against children'

They were arrested in Yangon's North Okkalapa township - one of six areas in the commercial hub currently under martial law, meaning anybody arrested there is tried by a military tribunal.

Myanmar has long had the death penalty, but has not carried out an execution in more than 30 years, said Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division for Human Rights Watch.

'It indicates the military are prepared to go back to a time when Myanmar was executing people,' he said.  

JAPAN: Myanmarese people living in Japan demonstrate against the coup in Tokyo on Sunday. Diaspora communities across Asia and elsewhere have held protests for months

JAPAN: Myanmarese people living in Japan demonstrate against the coup in Tokyo on Sunday. Protests were else held in the United States over the weekend

JAPAN: Myanmarese people living in Japan demonstrate against the coup and China's support for the military in Tokyo on Sunday

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