Civilian Killed as Myanmar Military Shells Village in Rakhine, Claims AA Attacked First

By Min Aung Khine 22 November 2019

SITTWE, Rakhine State—One villager was killed and another was injured by artillery shelling in the village of Amya Taung in Rakhine State’s Rathedaung Township around 4 p.m. on Thursday.

U Chen Thein Aung, 49, was killed and U Khin Maung Win, 52, was injured in the incident, according to family members.

“Artillery shells fell in the village as I was having a conversation with my husband,” said Daw Hla May Nu, the wife of U Khin Maung Win. “He told me to run to the village monastery and said that he would follow me later. He was hit by an artillery shell after I ran.”

Local residents said the artillery shells were fired by Myanmar military troops stationed near Yay Soe Chaung Village, a little over a kilometer and a half from Amya Taung Village.

Colonel Win Zaw Oo, spokesperson for the Myanmar military’s Western Command, said that troops from Yay Soe Chaung were shot at from the village and returned fire.

“The AA [Arakan Army] attacked our troops who were conducting clearance operations yesterday at noon. They also shot at troops stationed at Yay Soe Chaung. We have told [the AA] not to fire from villages or take cover in religious buildings. If they continue to do so, this kind of incident will continue to happen. We haven’t opened fire [on villages] but when [the AA] comes and provokes us, we have to return fire,” Col. Win Zaw Oo told The Irrawaddy.

Residents of Amya Taung first fled their village five months ago due to clashes. Only some male villagers remained in the village for the rice harvest. Women, elders and children fled to urban areas of Rathedaung or nearby villages.

“I hadn’t seen my husband in a long time,” said Daw Hla May Nu. “I only came back to the village yesterday and I could only talk with him for an hour.”

“Soldiers from Yay Soe Chaung shot at us even though there was no clash,” she added. “Before the artillery shells fell on our house, [U Khin Maung Win] even phoned and asked me if I had arrived at the monastery.”

Clashes broke out between the Myanmar military and the AA in November 2018 and have only intensified since then. Fighting has become an almost daily occurrence in northern Rakhine, with clashes taking place on Friday in Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw and Myebon in Rakhine State and in Paletwa in Chin State.

In September, the Rakhine State parliament approved a proposal by U Tun Tha Sein, a state lawmaker representing Mrauk-U Township, which urged the state government to form a committee to investigate civilian deaths in Rakhine. The state parliament approved the measure despite objections from military-appointed lawmakers and the Rakhine State government.

According to U Tun Tha Sein, 80 civilians were killed and over 120 were injured between November 2018 and June of this year. The latest figures are still unknown.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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