Acting on ‘Terrorist’ Rumor, Sittwe Police Instead Find Pill Stash

By Moe Myint 20 November 2015

RANGOON — During a highway search on Thursday for vehicles suspected to be transporting explosive materials, police instead found drugs on two travelers near the Arakan State capital of Sittwe, according to local police.

“As far as I know, the travelers are Arakanese, from Ponnagyun Township. There was not a large amount of drugs,” said police officer Aye Khin Maung.

Police were acting on a rumor rapidly spreading among residents of the state capital that “terrorists” were planning to enter the country through northern Arakan State, in the wake of the Paris attacks on Saturday.

“This sort of information is misleading and menacing to people who believe that rumor is based on fact,” said Sittwe resident Aung Kyaw.

The source of the rumor is unknown. Aung Mya Kyaw, an incumbent state lawmaker for the Arakan National Party, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the police checked every car in the vicinity of the Tatargyi Bridge and ratcheted up security, but that everything continues to run smoothly.

He added that one week ago police seized revolvers in Maungdaw Township and that the coastguard apprehended seven people near Thae Chaung village in Sittwe who were fleeing from neighboring Bangladesh. The Irrawaddy has been unable to confirm either report independently.

This latest drug seizure only stokes ongoing concern among residents and authorities of growing drug abuse in western Burma, particularly in Arakan State, where people fear mounting drug trafficking through the region to neighboring countries.

In September 2014, in what was the largest drug bust in the history of Mrauk-U Township, children found some 400,000 methamphetamine pills while playing at the Nandawgon City Wall in the old Arakan temple complex. Later that year, in September, the Rangoon Division Police found about 600,000 pills on an Arakan State-bound bus in Rangoon.