At least 2 killed in protest in Myanmar

Protesters hold out bullet cartridges and ammunition for slingshots after security forces fired on demonstrators

Two people were killed in Myanmar's second city Mandalay on Saturday when police fired to disperse protesting opponents of a February 1 military coup, emergency workers said.

Earlier, security forces in Myanmar ratcheted up their pressure against anti-coup protesters, using water cannons, tear gas, slingshots and rubber bullets against demonstrators and striking dock workers in Mandalay, the nation's second-largest city.

One man died from a head wound, media workers including Lin Khaing, an assistant editor with the Voice of Myanmar media outlet in the city, and a Mandalay emergency service said.

Members of Myanmar ethnic groups marched on Saturday in a colourful show of opposition to the coup that ousted the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, despite some misgivings about her commitment to their aspirations for autonomy.

Among those targeted have been railway workers, civil servants and bank staff who have walked off their jobs as part of a civil disobedience campaign aimed at crippling the army's ability to govern.

A young female protester in Myanmar who was shot in the head last week as police tried to disperse a crowd lost her fight for life on Friday, becoming the first casualty of the anti-coup movement that has shaken the Southeast Asian nation since a February 1 military takeover. The junta says it will hold new elections in a year's time.

Since she was shot, Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing has become a symbol of resistance for protesters, who have wielded massive banners portraying her likeness during demonstrations calling for justice.

The army says one policeman has died of injuries sustained in a protest. "The funeral will be held on Sunday".

The demonstrators are demanding the restoration of the elected government, the release of Suu Kyi and others and the scrapping of a 2008 constitution, drawn up under military supervision, that gives the army a major role in politics.

The army seized back power after alleging fraud in the Nov 8 elections won by Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, halting a transition to democracy that had begun in 2011 and detaining her and hundreds of others. The electoral commission had dismissed the allegations of fraud.

The protests have been more peaceful than the bloodily suppressed demonstrations during almost 50 years of direct military rule up to 2011.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price offered his government's condolences on Friday and reiterated calls on the military to refrain from violence against peaceful protesters.

Police in Yangon sealed off the city's main protest site near the Sule Pagoda, setting up barricades on access roads to an intersection where tens of thousands have gathered this week.

The United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand have announced limited sanctions, with a focus on military leaders, including banning travel and freezing assets.

Many countries have urged authorities to avoid violence. There is little history of Myanmar's generals, with closer ties to China and to Russian Federation, giving in to Western pressure.

Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing was already under sanctions from Western countries following the crackdown on the Rohingya.

Almost 550 people have been detained since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

She is under house arrest, accused of possessing illegal walkie-talkies and violating the country's Natural Disaster Law.



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