Myanmar authorities are interrogating four suspects in the murder of a former official in the town of Mrauk U in western Myanmar’s volatile Rakhine state, the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs said Thursday.
Bo Bo Min Theik, 37, was found dead on Tuesday with multiple stab wounds to his chest in a car near a roadway that passes through Ponnagyun township, the ministry said.
He had been transferred to another post in the state capital Sittwe amid public condemnation three days after local government officials ordered a violent crackdown on a protesters on Jan. 16, during which police shot dead seven people and wounded a dozen others.
Authorities arrested Kyaw Myint, former administrator of Mrauk U’s Tein Nyo village who operates a furniture shop, along with his wife, son, and daughter-in-law in the commercial capital Yangon, the announcement said.
Police apprehended Min Than Htay, the 20-year-old son of Kyaw Myint, at a bus stop on his way to visit his youngest brother in Yangon, and later picked up his wife Kyi Kyi Win and daughter-in-law Ma Khine Zar Hlaing at a Buddhist nunnery, the report said.
Police confiscated two vehicles belonging to the suspects along with 75 million kyats (U.S. $56,000), it said, but did not mention a motive for the killing.
The online journal The Irrawaddy reported that state government secretary Tin Maung Swe said Bo Bo Min Theik had been summoned by Mrauk U police on Jan. 25 to answer questions about the crackdown and was returning to Sittwe on Tuesday afternoon in a friend’s car.
A farmer in Yoe Ngu village told The Irrawaddy that he saw an accident involving the car Bo Bo Min Theik was traveling in and that three people fled the scene, disappearing into a wooded area.
After police arrived at the crime scene and took Bo Bo Min Theik’s body to the hospital, people on motorbikes set the vehicle on fire, The Irrawaddy’ said.
State residents have been up in arms since the deadly crackdown which occurred after thousands of ethnic Rakhines marking a nationalist Buddhist anniversary converged on a government office in Mrauk U when authorities attempted to stop the event.
Both the national government and Rakhine state lawmakers have set up investigation teams to look into the killings.