U.N. calls for justice after fatal shooting of Myanmar WHO worker

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FILE PHOTO: The United Nations headquarters building is pictured though a window with the UN logo in the foreground in the Manhattan borough of New York

(Reuters) - The United Nations condemned on Thursday the fatal shooting of a World Health Organization (WHO) employee in eastern Myanmar, the latest in a string of assassinations underlining the chaos in the country since last year's coup.

The U.N. and the WHO said Myo Min Htut, a WHO driver for five years, was shot dead on Wednesday while riding his motorcycle in Mawlamyine in Mon State, close to Thailand, in unclear circumstances.

The WHO said it was shocked by news of his death.

The shooting follows what rights groups say is a pattern of violence, retribution and vigilantism in military-ruled Myanmar, where local administrators and suspected junta informants have been killed on a near-daily basis.

The military overthrew an elected government last year and has used deadly force and mass arrests to suppress demonstrations.

Civilians have since taken up arms to fight police and soldiers, answering a shadow National Unity Government's (NUG) call for a people's revolt.

Ramanathan Balakrishnan, the U.N. resident coordinator, said the U.N. expects those who killed Myo Min Htut to be held accountable and "appeals to all parties and stakeholders to respect the neutrality of the United Nations and humanitarians".

A spokesperson for the military did not answer calls seeking comment on Thursday.

The anti-military people's defence force in Mawlamyine, which has pledged its support for the NUG, claimed responsibility for Myo Min Htut's killing, accusing him of being a junta informant and of harassing people who joined strikes and protests against last year's coup.

Reuters could not independently verify the allegations.

"We let him retire from this human world," the Mawlamyine militia group said in a statement, describing Myo Min Htut as an "informer" and a "dog", adding it had conducted its own investigation.

The WHO's Myanmar office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations made by the Mawlamyine militias.

The NUG, which the junta has outlawed as a "terrorist" organisation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (This story corrects typo in headline in word "shooting")

(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)

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