5 Civilians Injured in Mrauk-U as Myanmar Military Shells Village

By Min Aung Khine 2 December 2019

SITTWE, Rakhine State—Five civilians, including three children, were injured in Rakhine State’s Mrauk-U Township on Sunday after the Myanmar military allegedly shelled Yar Shay Pyin Village.

Military troops deployed nearby in Lin Mway Hill came down to the village and fired arms and artillery, according to local residents. A girl aged 13, two women aged 22 and 25, and two boys, ages 3 and 10, were reportedly injured.

“Soldiers came shooting about one mile from the village. At first, they were shooting their guns. Then, they fired four artillery shells. The last one struck the house of my brother, and children hiding there were hit by shrapnel,” local resident Ko Aung Thein told The Irrawaddy.

He said that most of the local residents fled when the soldiers came into the village shooting their guns.

“Villagers told me that soldiers opened fire for no reason when there was no fighting there. There was a mine attack near the village [against the Myanmar military] some two days ago. I think that’s why they were shooting,” said lawmaker U Tun Tha Sein, who represents Mrauk-U in the Rakhine State Parliament.

Colonel Win Zaw Oo, spokesperson for the Myanmar military’s Western Command, said soldiers returned fire at Yar Shay Pyin after Arakan Army (AA) fighters opened fire on them from inside the village.

“There have been frequent mine attacks near Yar Shay Pyin village and the AA has carried out frequent surprise attacks there. Our troops went to the village on Sunday to carry out clearance operations because we heard that AA fighters were staying in the village. Then they shot at us from inside the village and there was an exchange of fire. We don’t know if villagers were injured. The two sides exchanged fire for about half an hour,” Col. Win Zaw Oo told The Irrawaddy.

The five injured civilians are receiving treatment at a Mrauk-U public hospital.

In late September, the Rakhine State Parliament approved a proposal by lawmaker U Tun Tha Sein which urged the government to investigate civilian deaths amid clashes in Rakhine. The state parliament finished its session in late September and has not resumed since. The state government also has yet to give any response to the proposal.

According to the Rakhine Ethnic Congress, a relief group documenting internally displaced people in Rakhine, as many as 90,000 people have been displaced in northern Rakhine since clashes broke out in November of last year in Chin State’s Paletwa Township and later spread across northern Rakhine to impact Mrauk-U, the seat of Arakanese kings from the 15th century to the late 19th century.

U Tun Tha Sein said in September that 82 civilians have been killed and 126 have been injured since January. More recent figures are not available.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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