The parallel government launched by pro-democracy forces in Myanmar following a military coup to rival the ruling junta said Wednesday that it has established what it calls "People's Defence Force."
The National Unity Government said the defense force aims to protect supporters and others from violence by the military, but did not say whether it would engage in an armed struggle with the military in earnest.
The statement, issued under its prime minister's name, did not provide details about the force, either.
The National Unity Government has set its sights on creating a federal army with armed ethnic minorities that are seeking greater autonomy and in conflict with the military in the Southeast Asian country.
The National Unity Government said it has a responsibility to stop terrorism committed by the military and end a 70-year civil war, adding that it has already taken up arms and been fighting "terrorist" elements in multiple cities.
The junta has issued arrest warrants against senior officials of the parallel government, saying they will be tried for treason, which is punishable by death.
Violence against anti-coup protesters and others by Myanmar's security forces since the Feb. 1 coup had killed 769 people as of Tuesday, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group monitoring the situation in Myanmar.