Huge crowds brought Myanmar’s towns and cities to a standstill today in a mass strike against the coup, despite a warning from the military that protesters will “suffer loss of life” if demonstrations confront security forces.

Activists had called for a historic strike following the most violent weekend protest in which police opened fire on protesters in the second largest city, Mandalay, on Saturday, leaving at least two dead.

Thousands of people today packed the streets in Yangon, Mandalay, and Naypyidaw, as well as in towns and cities across the country, including in southeastern Dawei, in Shan state’s Taunggyi, in Ayeyarwady’s Pathein, Kachin state’s Myitkyina, and in one of the country’s poorest regions Chin state.

Protesters called for all offices and shops to be closed, with activists urging all citizens to join the protest.

For more than two weeks, thousands of people in villages, towns and cities across Myanmar have come out to peacefully protest or take part in a non-violent civil disobedience movement against the military takeover, calling for the generals to hand back power and release of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically-elected officials.