Army Troops Shoot Dead 2 Civilians in Their Homes in Mrauk-U Village

By Moe Myint 29 March 2019

YANGON—At least two civilians were shot dead and several were wounded by Myanmar Army troops in a village in northern Rakhine State’s Mrauk-U Township on Friday morning.

The two fatalities were identified as Authar Kan village residents Ma Sabei, who was pregnant, and U Phoe Khine, aged 60. Both were killed by Army soldiers in their homes.

Ma Sabei and another woman, Ma Pauk Sa, were shot multiple times. Ma Sabei died on the spot while Ma Pauk Sa suffered wounds to her head and other parts of her body. Ma Pauk Sa was taken by ambulance to Mrauk-U General Hospital at about 9 a.m.

Ma Pauk Sa was conscious and able to answer questions before entering the operating theater. She said that she and three other people were sitting at home at about 6 a.m. when soldiers entered Authar Kan village and fired indiscriminately at homes. She said some bullets passed through her home, which is situated on the outskirts of the village. According to the Mrauk-U Youth Association, villagers were not allowed to transport Ma Sabei’s body to Mrauk-U Hospital until noon.

Regional lawmaker U Tun Tha Sein, who represents of Mrauk-U constituency in the Rakhine State Parliament, helped attend to wounded villagers and bring out the bodies of those killed from the morning. He confirmed to The Irrawaddy over the phone that two dead bodies and one wounded patient had been taken to Mrauk-U hospital, while another injured person was receiving treatment at the Tein Nyo rural clinic.

He said Army soldiers arrested at least six villagers. Some locals told The Irrawaddy that prior to the attack there had been no exchange of fire between the military and the Arakan Army (AA), and the armed group had done nothing to provoke the government troops on Friday.

In the morning, about 100 soldiers from Light Infantry Division No. 55 entered the village and started shooting at homes without any reason, the local residents said. As the shooting targeted civilians in Authar Kan, several hundred residents fled neighboring Tein Nyo village in the afternoon.

A villager from Tein Nyo told The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity that more than 100 troops from LID N0. 55 spent a night in the village, where a military supply and transport unit is based. The following morning, the LID No. 55 troops entered neighboring Authar Kan village and deliberately opened fire, the villager said.

Military spokesman Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun could not be reached for comment on Friday afternoon.

According to the Tein Nyo villager, all of the more than 1,000 people who live in Authar Kan fled to different locations. Last week, five civilians from Rathedaung Township’s Say Taung village were brutally shot dead by Army soldiers during a raid: four of the victims were hiding in a bomb shelter at the time. The fifth victim was an elderly person who was shot in their home.

At a press conference held by the Tatmadaw Information Team last week, Major General Tun Tun Nyi told reporters that the Army could not carry out its operations without causing some civilian causalities. Another officer, Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun, accused AA rebels of wearing black tracksuits and mingling with ordinary people in villages.

Lawmakers and civil society groups have expressed concern that civilians are being intentionally targeted.

The Geneva Conventions stipulate five principles that armed actors must abide by: not to target civilians in conflict zones; not to target medical workers or structures; to refrain from torture; to allow civilians safe passage; and to grant access to humanitarian assistance to those in need.