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The US condemns the deadly shootings of protesters in Myanmar and calls on the army to finish the violence

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Anti-coup protesters hold placards as they protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, on Saturday, February 20, 2021.

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The U.S. embassy in Myanmar released a statement on Saturday condemning the fatal shootings of two anti-coup protesters in Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, after weeks of demonstrations.

“Nobody should be hurt while exercising the right to dissent,” the message said in a Twitter post. “We are deeply concerned about the fatal shooting of protesters in Mandalay, one day after the death of Mya Thwe Thwe Khine in Nay Pyi Taw. The military must stop the violence against the people of Myanmar.”

One of the victims was shot in the head and died on the spot, according to local reports. Another was shot in the chest and died on the way to the hospital. Relatives identified him as Thet Naing Win, a 36-year-old carpenter, according to Reuters.

The shootings took place near Mandalay’s Yadanabon Dock, where some 500 police and soldiers entered the area after dock workers joined protests against the military junta, which took power on February 1.

Security forces used water cannons, tear gas, slingshots and rubber bullets against demonstrators and beat dock workers.

Mya Thwe Thwe Khaing’s picture is shown by anti-coup protesters near Myaynigone intersection in Yangon, Myanmar, on Saturday, February 20, 2021.

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At least five people were injured by rubber bullets and had to be carried away in ambulances, according to a local Associated Press journalist.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned the shooting of peaceful demonstrators in Myanmar: “We will consider further measures with our international partners against those who destroy democracy and stifle dissent,” he said in a tweet.

The two deaths and other serious injuries occur one day after the death of Mya Thwet Thwet Khine, who was shot in the capital Naypyitaw on February 9 and spent more than a week on hospital life support. Her death on Friday was the first confirmed death among thousands of protesters who called for the restoration of the elected government and the release of lawmakers, including Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, rounded up in the coup.

The video from the day she was shot shows her protection from water cannons when she fell to the ground after a bullet penetrated the motorcycle helmet she was wearing.

A protester bandaged her head after being beaten by security forces during a demonstration against the military coup in Mandalay on February 20, 2021.

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State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed condolences to his administration on Friday and again urged the military not to use violence against peaceful demonstrators.

On February 10, President Joe Biden imposed sanctions on military leaders in Myanmar who led the coup that ousted and imprisoned leader-elect Suu Kyi and others. He announced that the government was working to freeze around $ 1 billion in assets in the U.S. that Myanmar’s military leaders have access to.

A protester is being led away after being arrested by security forces during a demonstration against the military coup in Mandalay on February 20, 2021.

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Biden said Myanmar’s “military must relinquish power it has seized on February 1 and release its prisoners” and urged the military not to use force against protesters who are exercising their democratic rights to object to the coup raise.

The national movement for civil disobedience showed no signs of slowing down despite the recent raids by the military government.

– Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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Katherine Clark