AA Frees 18 Myanmar Firefighters After One Dies

By Min Aung Khine 8 November 2019

SITTWE – Eighteen remaining firefighters abducted by the Arakan Army (AA) on Oct. 11 in Mrauk-U Township, Rakhine State, were released on Wednesday, according to the ethnic armed group’s spokesman.

Fire Department deputy director U Myint Zaw died on the day of the abduction, according to Khaing Thukha, the AA spokesman.

He told The Irrawaddy: “We released them all but one person died. U Myint Zaw died on the day we detained them. He died of shock, instantly, after taking a sip of water. We could not do anything.”

The spokesman said he shared his condolences with the family, although the death occurred nearly a month ago.

The group arrested 31 people: 12 civilians and 19 firefighters who were returning from Pyin Oo Lwin in Mandalay Region after receiving training.

U San Shwe Tun, the director of the Rakhine State Fire Department, told The Irrawaddy: “We heard they were released but we cannot confirm it yet, as all of the detained firefighters have not yet arrived.”

He could not be reached Friday for an update.

In a separate incident on Nov. 3, the AA arrested 10 people, including five Indians and an Upper House parliamentarian from Chin State’s Paletwa Township, when they were taking the speedboat from Paletwa to Kyauktaw Township in Rakhine State.

One Indian man died of ill health, the AA said. It released eight others and the dead man’s body but continued to detain the parliamentarian.

On Oct. 26, the AA abducted 45 people, including 14 soldiers, 29 police and two prison staff from a Shwe Nadi ferry traveling from Sittwe to Buthidaung Township. The Tatmadaw said it rescued 15 of them on the following day.

The AA released 25 civilians from the Shwe Nadi ferry in Buthidaung on Tuesday. Khaing Thukha refused to say how many hostages allegedly affiliated with the military were still being detained.