The Austrian presidency of the European Union on Friday condemned the use of violence by Nepalese government forces to quell pro-democracy protesters, and urged authorities to grant access to health workers, United Nations observers and diplomats.

"The use of live ammunition against demonstrators marks a watershed in the crisis. The presidency of the EU roundly condemns the use of these and other excessive measures by government forces to curb pro-democracy protests in Katmandu and elsewhere in Nepal," the presidency said in a statement.

For about two weeks now, pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the Himalayan country demanding that the king give up his power. The situation has escalated steadily, and on Thursday police opened fire on protests attended by tens of thousands of people for defying a 25-hour curfew, killing at least three on the spot and wounding dozens more.

In the statement, the presidency also noted that the curfew has aggravated the "already difficult lives" of ordinary Nepalese citizens, adding that passes should be issued without delay to ambulance crews, observers of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights and representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The presidency also urged the authorities to respect the right of the media to do their job.