YANGON — The Arakan Army (AA) has denied responsibility for the Jan. 30 killing of a former official of Rakhine State’s Mrauk-U Township, saying it has no association with the detained suspects.
“The accusations that the government made are totally untrue. We were not involved in U Bo Bo Min Theik’s murder,” AA spokesman U Khaing Thukha told The Irrawaddy.
The recently promoted Rakhine State government director was found dead with multiple stab wounds to the chest in Rakhine’s Phonnagyun Township.
Earlier, U Bo Bo Min Theik had been summoned for questioning over a police crackdown on a Jan. 16 protest there that left seven civilians dead.
He was serving as an official in Mrauk-U at the time of the protest, which was sparked by the government’s decision to ban events marking the anniversary of the fall of the Arakan kingdom some 200 years ago. A few days after the protest and crackdown, he was transferred to Sittwe, the state capital, over concerns for his safety.
On Jan. 31, police arrested four suspects in U Bo Bo Min Theik’s murder. U Kyaw Myint and his son Ko Min Than Htay, wife Daw Kyi Kyi Win and daughter-in-law Ma Khin Zar Hlaing were arrested in Yangon and cases were opened against them for homicide, abetting and causing grievous harm.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement released Monday it had learned that the AA assassinated U Bo Bo Min Theik in retaliation for his role in blocking the anniversary commemoration.
It said U Kyaw Myint confessed to conspiring to kill U Bo Bo Min Theik with AA recruiter Ko Latt and three others — Sapaing, Zaw Myo Aung and Myo Chit Aung.
The statement also alleges that U Kyaw Myint and his son had been trafficking illicit drugs from Shan State to Rakhine for several years. It said they smuggled 4.4 million methamphetamine pills into Rakhine’s Maungdaw District in 2016 and 2017 at a profit of almost 400 million kyats ($299,000) and confessed to buying M-16 assault rifles, pistols and ammunition for the AA. It added that U Kyaw Myint had kept one of the pistols.
AA spokesperson U Khaing Thukha described the government’s statement as an attempt to frame the organization.
“The people named [in the statement] have no connection with us. Another thing that is completely wrong is the type of firearm mentioned. The Arakan Army doesn’t use M-16s. That is totally wrong,” he added.
The ministry adds in the statement that it will arrest and prosecute all conspirators.
“This is a complex case and it’s hard to say who is responsible. But the AA doesn’t need to do something like this; those who oppose injustice and oppression will do it,” U Khaing Thukha said.