Two Women Killed by Gunfire in Mrauk-U

The Burma Army accuses the Arakan Army of attacking them from a village, but the AA says the military fired on the community.


March 29, 2019

Two women were killed, seven civilians were injured, and eight more were detained by the Burma Army in fighting in a village in Rakhine State’s Mrauk-U Township on Friday, locals and parliamentarians have said.

Accounts of the clash in the community of Oukthakan—ten miles from Mrauk-U town—are disputed. State parliamentarian for Mrauk-U Tun Thar Sein confirmed that two civilians had been killed, and that he had witnessed the death of one woman, and had been told that another died on the way to the hospital in the state capital of Sittwe, where the seven injured people were being treated.

“I heard the sound of artillery shooting in Mrauk-U town but I didn’t hear sound of small arms shooting. I also heard artillery shooting every 10-15 minutes,” he said. These artillery shots “sounded one-sided,” he said. “It’s like they were opening fire from the same place,” he said of the party carrying out the gunfire.

The report is in keeping with a description provided by the Arakan Army (AA), which has been clashing with the military in Rakhine and southern Chin State.

“There was no clash there,” Khaing Thukha, who is charge of the AA’s information department, told NMG, referring to Oukthakan. “The Burma Army entered the village and randomly shot out. Their soldiers opened fire with their machine guns and launchers at Oukthakan village from Teinnyo village bridge on the Sittwe-Yangon highway. They shot two women dead in a restaurant near the entrance to Oukthakan village.”

The Burmese military’s Office of the Commander-in-Chief reported that around 10 AA soldiers attacked the combined forces of the Burma Army and the police using landmines and shooting at them from within the village. The Burma Army then claimed it had arrested five AA informants.

Military tension has been escalating between government and Arakanese forces in northern Rakhine State, and shootouts in Mrauk-U have led to reports of the targeting of civilians.

“According to villagers, their houses have been damaged and some civilians have been killed when the Burma Army launches clearance operations,” MP Tun Thar Sein said.

An investigation committee established by the Arakan National Party reported on March 27 that their surveys shows more than 50 people in the area had been killed, injured, or gone missing in the township clashes. More than 6,000 have reportedly fled.

Rakhine State’s members of parliament have called for a halt to the armed conflict and to solve political problems through negotiations but tension has intensified.

“I want to request that both armed forces not attack civilians or heritage sites. I want to demand that they stop hostilities and start dialogue and negotiations at the political table,” Tun Thar Sein said.

Clashes between the Burma Army and the AA have displaced more than 20,000 people in Mrauk-U, Rathedaung, Buthidaung, Kyawktaw, Minbya and Ponnagyun townships in Rakhine State.