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Official from Suu Kyi's party dies in police custody

Myanmar unions call for nationwide strike to cause 'full shutdown' of economy

YANGON: An official from the party of deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi died overnight in police custody, associates said, while security forces cracked down on demonstrators staging some of the most widespread protests against last month's coup.

And an alliance of influential worker unions has called for an extended nationwide strike starting today, with the intention of causing the "full, extended shutdown" of the country's economy in an attempt to stop the military coup.

In a statement, nine labour organisations called on "all Myanmar people" to stop work in an effort to reverse the seizure of power by the military.

The cause of Mr Khin Maung Latt's death was not known, but Reuters saw a photograph of his body with a bloodstained cloth around the head.

Mr Sithu Maung, a member of the dissolved Parliament, said in a Facebook post that Mr Khin Maung Latt was his campaign manager and was arrested on Saturday night in the Pabedan district of Yangon.

The police fired stun grenades and tear gas to break up a sit-in protest by tens of thousands of people in Mandalay, the Myanmar Now media group said. At least 70 people were arrested.

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Earlier, troops occupied a university in the city after firing rubber bullets at people there, it said. Two people were injured.

A witness said the police opened fire to break up a protest in the historic temple town of Bagan, and several residents said in social media posts that live bullets were used.

The United Nations said security forces have killed more than 50 people to stamp out daily demonstrations and strikes since the military overthrew and detained Ms Suu Kyi on Feb 1.

More than 1,700 people had been detained under the military junta by Saturday, according to figures from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group. It did not give a figure for overnight detentions.

Meanwhile, China said yesterday it is prepared to engage with "all parties" to ease the crisis and is not taking sides.

"China is... willing to contact and communicate with all parties on the basis of respecting Myanmar's sovereignty and the will of the people, so as to play a constructive role in easing tensions," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. - REUTERS

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