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WRAPUP 12-Two killed in Mandalay city in bloodiest day of Myanmar protests

·4 min read

* Several wounded, two killed in shooting in Mandalay

* Protesters turn out in towns and cities across Myanmar

* United States says 'deeply concerned'

* Britain warns of more action against those 'crushingdemocracy'

Feb 20 (Reuters) - Two people were killed in Myanmar'ssecond city Mandalay on Saturday when police and soldiers firedto disperse protests against a Feb. 1 military coup, emergencyworkers said, the bloodiest day in more than two weeks ofdemonstrations.

Protesters took to the streets in cities and towns acrossMyanmar with members of ethnic minorities, poets, rappers andtransport workers among those demanding an end to military ruleand the release from detention of elected leader Aung San SuuKyi and others.

Tensions escalated quickly in Mandalay where police andsoldiers confronted striking shipyard workers and otherprotesters.

Some of the demonstrators fired catapults at police as theyplayed cat and mouse through riverside streets. Police respondedwith tear gas and gunfire, and witnesses said they found thecartridges of both live rounds and rubber bullets on the ground.

"Twenty people were injured and two are dead," said Ko Aung,a leader of the Parahita Darhi volunteer emergency service.

One man died from a head wound, media workers including LinKhaing, an assistant editor with the Voice of Myanmar mediaoutlet in the city, and a volunteer doctor said.

Ko Aung and the doctor said a second man was shot in thechest and died later of his wound. He was identified byrelatives as Thet Naing Win, a 36-year-old carpenter.

"They took away the body to the morgue. I cannot bring himback home. Although my husband died, I still have my son," hiswife, Thidar Hnin, told Reuters by phone. "I haven't beeninvolved in this movement yet but now I am going to ... I am notscared now."

Several other injured protesters were carried away onstretchers by volunteer medics, their clothes soaked in blood.

Police were not available for comment.

A young woman protester, Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, died onFriday after being shot in the head last week as policedispersed a crowd in the capital, Naypyitaw, the first deathamong anti-coup demonstrators.

The army says one policeman has died of injuries sustainedin a protest.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the UnitedStates was "deeply concerned" by reports that security forceshad fired on protesters and continued to detain and harassdemonstrators and others.

"We stand with the people of Burma," Price wrote on Twitter.Myanmar is also known as Burma.

Britain said it would consider further action against thoseinvolved in violence against protesters, and the French foreignministry called the violence "unacceptable."

"The shooting of peaceful protesters in Myanmar is beyondthe pale," British foreign minister Dominic Raab said in tweet."We will consider further action, with our internationalpartners, against those crushing democracy & choking dissent."

The United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand haveannounced limited sanctions since the coup, with a focus onmilitary leaders.

State television MRTV's evening news broadcast made nomention of the protests or casualties.

In the main city Yangon, residents again banged pots andpans in a nightly ritual in defiance of the coup. Outside theU.S. Embassy in the city, dozens of protesters, mostly women,gathered at twilight for a candlelit vigil, singing anti-coupsongs.

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

More than a fortnight of demonstrations and a civildisobedience campaign of strikes and disruptions show no sign ofdying down. Opponents of the coup are sceptical of the army'spromise to hold a new election and hand power to the winner.

The demonstrators are demanding the restoration of theelected government and the release of Suu Kyi and others. Theyhave also called for the scrapping of a 2008 constitution thathas assured the army a major role in politics since nearly 50years of direct military rule ended in 2011.

The army seized back power after alleging fraud in Nov. 8elections that Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy swept,detaining her and others. The electoral commission had dismissedthe fraud complaints.

Nevertheless, the army says its action is within theconstitution and is supported by a majority of the people. Themilitary has blamed protesters for instigating violence.

Crowds also gathered on Saturday in the northern town ofMyitkyina, the ancient capital of Bagan and in Pathein in theIrrawaddy river delta, pictures on social media showed.

Even before the coup, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing wasalready under sanctions from Western countries following thecrackdown on the Rohingya. There is little history ofMyanmar's generals, with closer ties to China and to Russia,giving in to Western pressure.

Suu Kyi faces a charge of violating a Natural DisasterManagement Law as well as illegally importing six walkie-talkieradios. Her next court appearance is on March 1.

Myanmar's Assistance Association for Political Prisonerssaid 546 people had been detained, with 46 released, as ofFriday.(Reporting by Reuters staffWriting by Robert Birsel and Ros RussellEditing by William Mallard, Frances Kerry and Daniel Wallis)