AA Abducts Mytel’s Rakhine Boss, Driver, Myanmar Military Says

By Min Aung Khine 27 December 2019

SITTWE, Rakhine State—The Arakan Army (AA) rebel group has abducted a director of the military-backed telecom operator Mytel along with his driver, the Myanmar military said Friday.

In a statement, the military (or Tatmadaw) said the rebel group abducted Sittwe-based Mytel’s Rakhine State Office director, U Zaw Tun Aung, and his driver, U Saw Thein Maung.

Mytel is Myanmar’s fourth telecom operator after MPT, Telenor and Ooredoo. It is a joint venture of Star High Public Co. Ltd, owned by Myanma Economic Corporation under the military-controlled Ministry of Defense; Myanmar National Telecom Holdings, a Myanmar consortium comprising 11 companies; and the Vietnamese telecom company Viettel.

Colonel Win Zaw, spokesman for the Myanmar military’s Western Command, confirmed the abduction to The Irrawaddy.

“They were abducted three, four days ago. But I don’t know details,” Col. Win Zaw Oo said.

The two were making a field trip to improve Mytel’s communication services in Rakhine State, and were near Kyauktaw Township when contact with the men was lost on Monday morning, according to the Tatmadaw statement.

The two, both ethnic Rakhine, left Sittwe on Dec. 17 and visited Ann, Thandwe and Minbya townships. They stayed overnight in Minbya on Sunday, and were on route to Kyauktaw the following day when they went missing.

Citing the accounts of local residents, the statement said the AA abducted the two near the village of Taung Pauk in Kyauktaw Township.

When asked about the incident by The Irrawaddy, AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha said he had no knowledge of the two men.

Citing security concerns, the government has blocked internet services in Kyauktaw, Ponnagyun, Mrauk-U and Minbya townships since June 21.

U Ye Thein, chairman of the National League for Democracy’s Buthidaung Township office, died on Wednesday while being detained by the AA. The AA said he was killed by a military strike on one of its outposts in Buthidaung, but the military denied engaging in any fighting in Buthidaung on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the AA reportedly abducted three immigration officials including an office director in Buthidaung Township.

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