Civilian Dies in Shooting Near Myanmar Military Base in Rakhine State

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myanmar-mrauk-u-twp-sign-rakhine-undated-photo.jpg A sign marks the entrance to Mrauk-U township in western Myanmar's Rakhine state in an undated photo.

A civilian traveling by boat in Rakhine state’s Mrauk-U township died Tuesday after he was struck in the head by a bullet believed to be fired by Myanmar government soldiers near an army supply camp and an area where the military recently clashed with the rebel Arakan Army (AA), the dead man's relatives and villagers said.

Bo Than Tun, 22, who was traveling with other civilians, including his elder sister, younger brother, and brother-in-law, was shot when the boat passed a government military camp near Tainnyo village, they said. The four family members had left the township's Taung Myint village to go to their farms in Kyarkan village.

Bo Than Tun was first taken to the Tainnyo village clinic, but was transferred to Mrauk-U Hospital where he died. His family said they would cremate him at the Mrauk-U cemetery on Thursday.

Hla Maung Chae, the dead man’s brother-in-law, said they were transporting four bags of rice seed to their farms in Kyarkan village.

“When they started shooting, we tried to take cover in the boat,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “My brother-in-law sped up the motor to drive the boat faster. We stopped at the creek bank and jumped into the creek.”

Bo Than Tun and the others dove under the water to try to hide from the assailants who were sitting on the bank of the creek, he said.

“We were so close to them that we could see one another,” Hla Maung Chae said. “They started shooting at us as soon as they saw us.”

No one else from the boat was injured in the shooting, he added.

The Myanmar military, which is fighting the AA in northern Rakhine state and in Paletwa township of neighboring Chin state, operates a transport and supply base near Tainnyo village.

“I would like to know who is in charge of that military supply camp,” said Bo Than Tun’s father, Maung Mya Sein. “I want that person and those who fired the shots yesterday to be thoroughly investigated and punished.”

Village resident San Wai said the gunshots came only from the military base area.

“I know the shots came from the military’s supply camp,” he told RFA. “There were no other gunshots. It only came from that area.”

‘Criminal gang’

AA spokesman Khine Thukha blasted the Myanmar military for the latest incident involving the shooting of civilians.

“They are threatening the daily activities of civilians,” he told RFA. “They are now shooting at everyone they run into, and nobody does that kind of thing in any country. … They are acting like a criminal gang.”

I view these kinds of offenses as the intentional and ethnic persecution of the Rakhine people,” he said. “These are obvious war crimes committed by the Myanmar military.”

The ethnic Rakhine army has fought the Myanmar military in Rakhine state since 2015 in a bid for greater autonomy and self-determination.

Colonel Win Zaw Oo, spokesman for the military’s Western Command responsible for Rakhine state, said he had no information about the boat or the shooting.

“I don’t know clearly about it,” he said. “Yesterday I was informed about a remote-controlled mine attack on our troops by the AA near Letka village. I don’t have any other reports.”

A Myanmar military regiment was hit by a mine explosion near Mrauk-U’s Letka village in Mrauk-U around 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The boat carrying Bo Than Tun and the others was fired upon about two hours later roughly three miles from where the mine blast occurred.

So far this year, 70 civilians have been killed and more than 100 have been injured by gunshots, shellings, and mine explosions amid the armed conflict Rakhine state, which flared anew between the two sides in late 2018.

The fighting has displaced more than 34,000 civilians, most of whom are living in temporary camps or in monasteries in the state.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.


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