The United States has condemned Burmese authorities for the beating death of a former political prisoner, saying the killing highlights what it calls the "brutality and repressiveness" of the Rangoon government.

A U.S. State Department spokesman called the beating of Thet Naing Oo "unconscionable" and said it is the latest in a string of increasingly violent acts targeting members of the political opposition. He said those responsible should be held accountable.

Local fire fighters and municipal officers beat the 40-year-old Friday when he was found urinating in public.

The Asian Human Rights Commission called the beating a "murderous assault" and said it demonstrates that Burma's government has failed in its stated objective to create a disciplined society.