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EU slaps sanctions on more Myanmar officials, state companies

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FILE PHOTO: A slogan is written on a street as a protest after the coup in Yangon

(Reuters) - The European Union on Monday imposed a third round of sanctions on Myanmar officials and state companies over the military coup on Feb. 1 that overthrew elected leader Aung Suu Kyi and sent the country tumbling into chaos.

More than 860 people have been killed by security forces since then, and more than 4,500 jailed, according to an activist group. The junta says the number is much lower.

Neither sanctions nor diplomacy nor the increasing violence have had an obvious impact on the junta, which argues that the coup which ended 10 years of tentative democratic reforms will bring a "disciplined democracy."

The EU imposed an asset freeze and a travel ban on eight Myanmar officials, among them the home affairs minister responsible for the police force, and slapped sanctions on three companies that are state-owned or controlled by the military.

A fourth entity, the War Veterans Organisation, was also hit by the measures.

"By targeting the gems and timber sectors, these measures are aimed at restricting the junta's ability to profit from Myanmar's natural resources, while being crafted so as to avoid undue harm to the people of Myanmar," the EU said in a statement.

In total, EU sanctions now apply to 43 individuals and six entities. Britain added three Myanmar entities to its sanctions list on Monday.

At a meeting in Moscow, meanwhile, Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia's Security Council, and Myanmar's junta leader, Min Aung Hlaing, committed to further strengthening security and other ties between the two countries.

Rights activists have accused Moscow of legitimising Myanmar’s military junta by continuing bilateral visits and arms deals. Russia says it has a longstanding relationship with Myanmar.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold in Berlin; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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