Army Shoots Motorcycle Driver Dead in N. Rakhine

By Moe Myint 10 May 2019

YANGON—A motorcycle ferry operator was shot dead while driving home to his village in northern Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw Township early Friday morning, according to local residents.

The victim was identified as Ko Maung Maung Hla, 36, from Phayar Paung village 4 miles south of downtown Kyauktaw. Village administrator U Aung Tin Win, who went to see the body at Kyauktaw General Hospital on Friday morning, told The Irrawaddy that Ko Maung Maung Hla worked as a ferry operator. He had a 9-year-old son with his wife, Daw Hla Win, who sells vegetables in a market.

After driving to downtown Kyauktaw by motorcycle and dropping his wife off at the market, Ko Maung Maung Hla was returning to his village to pick up a weighing scale when he was shot dead on the road, according to the village administrator.

The Myanmar Military Information Team’s Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun confirmed the death of Ko Maung Maung Hla. He said the man was an Arakan Army (AA) member who was attempting to flee after detonating a landmine against a marching army column.

“He ran away after detonating [the mine]. So there was an engagement and he died of gunshot wounds,” he said.

The brigadier-general added that a motorbike, grenade and some landmine-related materials were found nearby.

Kyauktaw resident and social activist Ko Zaw Win, who also went to the hospital, said the victim had been shot in the knee and the forehead.

An eyewitness who was among a group of police and rescue team workers who picked up the body at the crime scene told The Irrawaddy over the phone on Friday morning that some wires, an unexploded grenade and a phone keypad were found near the body. The motorbike lay several feet from the body without major damage, he said.

Locals reported hearing a landmine blast at about 5:45 a.m. near Phayar Paung and Taung Pauk villages. Following the blast, commuters and private cars avoided traveling between Kyauktaw and Mrauk-U. There were also unconfirmed reports that government troops and AA fighters had engaged in a brief firefight in the area.

Also on Friday, another ferry operator, Ko Tin Win, 26, from Taung Pauk village, was struck in the head by a stray bullet while docking a boat in a local creek, though there were no reports of an armed clash near the village. The bullet did not strike his skull and he survived. The wounded man was also taken to Kyauktaw Hospital.

At about 3.00 p.m. Friday, the Office of the Commander-in-Chief released a brief statement accompanied by a map but without any photos, saying that AA members twice attacked military troops on Friday with remote controlled mines.

It said that while Army personnel were clearing the area, “One suspected AA man was shot dead and a motorbike, grenade and some landmine-related materials were found at the scene.”

The Army stated that AA rebels had planted landmines in about 16 locations in contested areas in the region, and that the Army had defused a total of 46 landmines.