Myanmar Security Forces Kill Two in Shootout in Rakhine’s Buthidaung Township

By Roseanne Gerin
2017-07-10
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Weapons and other items seized by security forces following a shootout with 'armed terrorists' are displayed in Buthidaung township in western Myanmar's Rakhine state, July 9, 2017.
Weapons and other items seized by security forces following a shootout with 'armed terrorists' are displayed in Buthidaung township in western Myanmar's Rakhine state, July 9, 2017.
Photo courtesy of Myanmar State Counselor's Office

Myanmar security forces killed two people during an attack by “armed terrorists” in Buthidaung township on Sunday in the turbulent northern part of the country’s Rakhine state, the office of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi said.

The attackers used small arms and landmines against the government security forces on patrol near Buithdaung’s Tinmay village, firing about 20 rounds of bullets from a house owned by a resident named Phwayaut Islam, according to the statement issued by the office.

Security forces returned fire, while those inside the house exploded a mine, it said.

When the forces tried to clear out the house, three people ran out, including Phwayaut Islam and a man named Zarbe, who were shot and killed, the statement said.

Inside, security forces seized a Ba-94 gun, cartridge cases, bullets, a handmade gun, a remote mine, and material for building improvised explosive devices, it said. A 1,000 Bangladeshi taka (U.S. $12.41) note along with other notes of various denominations, various small items, and a cellphone were found in a small bag.

The Ba-94 was one of the weapons that belonged to the assailants who waged deadly attacks on the Kyikanpyin border guard station on Oct. 9, 2016, the statement said.

In all, three border guard stations were attacked in Maungdaw and Rathedaung townships that day, leaving nine patrolmen dead.

Authorities later blamed the raids on an obscure group of militant Rohingya Muslims, which they have not named, and ordered a security crackdown on the tri-township area during which about 1,000 people are estimated to have died and 90,000 Rohingya fled their homes, with most going to neighboring Bangladesh.

So far, Rakhine authorities have charged more than 500 local Muslims and deemed 1,300 others fugitives for their alleged involvement in the October 2016 attacks.

Though the crackdown ended in February, government soldiers continue to patrol the townships in the wake of a series of disappearances, murders, and other attacks on security forces that have struck fear in ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, who constitute a minority in the area.

Recent killings of ethnic Rakhine people coupled with alarm about armed assaults by Rohingya Muslims forced about 200 Rakhine Buddhists to flee Maungdaw last week. The move prompted troops in the area to be put on high alert and a state parliamentary official to call for increased security.

Fourteen Myanmar political parties, including the main opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), urged the civilian government on July 6 to order martial law in the townships.

They also urged the government not to accept an international fact-finding mission that the United Nations Human Rights Commission will send to Rakhine state to investigate atrocities that Myanmar’s army is said to have committed against Rohingya Muslims during the four-month security sweep of the northern townships

The central government has disassociated itself from a United Nations resolution mandating the fact-finding mission.

The country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has appointed a commission led by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan to examine the situation on the ground in Rakhine and propose ways to solve the sectarian tensions. The commission’s final report is due in August.

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