U.S. Orders Non-Emergency Staff to Leave Myanmar Amid Violence
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Department of State has ordered all non-emergency government officials and their family members to leave Myanmar as the security situation continued to deteriorate following the military coup early last month.
The decision was made for the safety and security of government personnel and their dependents, a State Department spokesperson said by email.
It comes as clashes between protesters and security forces intensified over the weekend, with the number of people confirmed killed by the authorities now at least 521 since Feb. 1 when the military overthrew the country’s democratically elected civilian government, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Ongoing air strikes against one of the country’s largest rebel groups, the Karen National Union, have also stoked fears of a full-fledged civil war as other armed factions this week vowed to join the protest movement if the military doesn’t reverse course.
In Yangon, the U.S. embassy reported shots had been fired at the nearby cultural American Center on Saturday. The embassy will remain open to the public and continue to provide a limited range of consular services to both U.S. citizens and visa applicants, the spokesperson said.
The ordered departure status will be reviewed in 30-day increments.
The U.S. has led international condemnation against the military for its action against protesters, last week blacklisting the two largest business entities it controls. Washington has also suspended all engagement with Myanmar under the 2013 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. The measure will remain in effect until the return of a democratically elected government.
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