Four Injured in Kyauktaw Shooting After Burma Army Soldiers Take Over Pagoda

Monday, December 30, 2019

A shooting involving guns and heavy weapons from a Kyauktaw town pagoda in Rakhine State on Saturday morning led to three men and one woman being wounded, and left some 70 students trapped in a monastery on-site.

The incident happened in Kyauktaw town within the compound of Maha Kangyi Shin pagoda, locals said, after Burma Army troops came to stay in the pagoda’s compound the day before, on December 27.

“I heard an explosion at around 9:30 a.m. After the explosion, I heard the sound of guns shooting for five to 10 minutes,” Kyauktaw parliamentarian Oo Tun Win told NMG.

He said that the four civilians who were wounded suffered gunshot injuries and were hit by shrapnel from a shell. The serious injuries included shots to the hand and to shrapnel to the eye, and the victims were sent to Sittwe public hospital by ambulance. The two individuals with minor injuries sought treatment at Kyauktaw hospital.

The injured people were 31-year-old Ma Than Aye, 53-year-old Sein Kyaw Win, 43-year-old Aung Win and 50-year-old Aung Kyi.

Kyauktaw locals said that after the Burma Army soldiers arrived over the weekend, they interrogated visitors, customers and salespeople around the pagoda. They said the fighting on Saturday morning lasted for just under an hour, with Tatmadaw troops firing small arms and heavy weapons from the Maha Kangyi Shin pagoda compound to Kyauktaw town. , presumably at Arakan Army soldiers, who they have been engaged with clashes with in Rakhine and southern Chin states.

“Currently, nobody dares to go around the incident site. Local people are afraid. Soldiers investigated local people yesterday and the incident occurred today,” a Kyauktaw local told NMG on Saturday. “Local people fear indiscriminate shooting,” they added.

The troops are now staying in the Metta Ooyin Panya Dana volunteer school in the pagoda compound, with nearly 70 students and the abbot of the monastery unable to leave.

“Nobody can go out of the compound. The abbot and the commander of the military column held discussions [on Saturday]. I heard that if the soldiers won’t leave, the abbot and students will leave the compound. It is really difficult for the students there,” the local told NMG.

According to Kyauktaw parliamentarian Oo Tun Win, unexploded shells have been found in a village near the site of the shooting.

“I want to request that neither group’s troops shoot near civilian locations,” he explained, referring to the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army. “In the beginning, they fought in the jungle. Then they have fought near civilian villages. Now they have fought in the town. There is no security for local people, even those living downtown. Gun shooting has happened in areas crowded with people.”

Burma Army and Arakan Army troops engaged in a gunfire fight near Ywarma primary school in Kyauktaw town earlier in December, leading to the death of Grade 3 student.

Spokespersons from both the Burma Army and the Arakan Army have told media outlets that there have been multiple recent clashes in Maebon, Minbya, Kyauktaw, Buthidaung, Ponnagyun and Rathedaung townships in Rakhine State and Paletwa township in Chin State.