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Bloc’s top diplomat also calls for an international arms embargo following killing of at least 35 people last week.

The European Union is ready to impose further sanctions on military-ruled Myanmar over a Christmas Eve mass killing blamed on the army, the bloc’s top diplomat has said.

In a statement on Thursday, Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, also called for an international arms embargo on Myanmar in the wake of the December 24 incident.

At least 35 people, including children and humanitarian workers, were killed by security forces in a village in Myanmar’s conflict-torn eastern Kayah state, according to humanitarian agencies and The Myanmar Witness monitoring group. The victims’ bodies were burned afterwards.

“In view of the escalating violence in Myanmar, increased international preventive action is required, including an arms embargo,” Borrell said. “The EU also stands ready to impose further sanctions against the military regime,” he added.

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The Myanmar military said it had shot and killed an unspecified number of “terrorists with weapons” from the opposition armed forces in Kayah last week after they did not stop for a military check.

But Borrell described the incident as an “appalling act of violence perpetrated by the military regime” and said there was an “urgent need to hold those responsible accountable”. The United Nations’ humanitarian affairs chief, Martin Griffiths, and the United States have also denounced Myanmar’s military rulers in recent days.

The 27-member state EU has imposed targeted sanctions on Myanmar’s military since it staged a coup in February which deposed former leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government.

The bloc has also frozen its support for development projects in Myanmar to avoid providing financial assistance to the country’s current rulers following their power grab.

Since the coup, more than 1,300 people have been killed by security forces and more than 11,000 have been jailed as thousands protested against the coup, according to a tally by the Association for Assistance of Political Prisoners rights group. The military disputes the group’s death toll.

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Some domestic opponents of the military have meanwhile taken up arms, at times linking up with ethnic minority groups who have for years been fighting the government for greater autonomy in various parts of Myanmar, including Kayah.

The military has responded forcefully to the self-proclaimed “People’s Defence Forces” with bloody rounds of reprisals.

Source: Al Jazeera

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