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US condemns use of phosphorus in Myanmar

Published on Mar 13, 2013 6:22 AM
A Buddhist monk, who was injured in a crackdown during a protest at a Chinese-backed copper mine in Monywa, northern Myanmar, resting at a hospital after he was transferred for better treatment to Mandalay. An independent investigation into a crackdown on a protest at a Chinese-backed copper mine that left dozens injured has found on January 31, 2013 that phosphorus was used by security forces, according to a group of lawyers. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States said it condemned any use of phosphorus as a crowd control measure after an official Myanmar report on Tuesday found the toxic agent had been used to end a rally at a copper mine.

Dozens of people, including monks, were injured in the November clampdown, many suffering burns from the white phosphorus, according to a parliamentary report led by opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

"We have opposed the use of phosphorus as a crowd control agent, and we have urged the government to ensure that its security forces exercise maximum restraint," State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said.

"This phosphorus... can be quite damaging to humans. There are other crowd control elements that are better suited." The burns sustained by the protesters caused a wave of outrage across Myanmar, sparking further protests and leading to an official apology to senior clerics for a crackdown widely seen as a throwback to junta-era tactics.

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