Five Civilians Killed by Artillery Shelling in N. Rakhine

By Moe Myint 3 June 2019

YANGON—At least five civilians from northern Rakhine State’s rural Minbya area were killed Monday when artillery landed near a monastery sheltering more than a hundred villagers, as ongoing fighting between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (AA) intensified in the forested mountains along the Laymyo River, locals say.

Social activist Ko Nyi Nyi Aung, from Minbya Township, told The Irrawaddy that he and a rescue team went to the contested Sa Par Htar village to retrieve the bodies from the monastery but were only able to retrieve two.

The two bodies retrieved were transported to Mrauk-U Township’s Myaung Bway model village hospital in the afternoon. Because of the chaotic situation, the victims have not yet been identified by relatives.

Ko Nyi Nyi said nine villagers were wounded and transported to Minbya General Hospital for medical treatment in the afternoon, a few of them in critical condition. Seven of the injured were woman, while the other two consisted of a novice monk and an elderly man.

Ko Nyi Nyi said he heard the artillery fire around 2:30 p.m. on Monday as he and some locals arrived at neighboring Than Shin village. The Irrawaddy has learned that, at that time, there was no fighting in the area, and cannot independently confirm where the artillery fire came from.

“Soon after the artillery shelling, we were told some villagers had been killed on the spot [in the monastery),” Ko Nyi Nyi Aung said.

A few hours later, a local charity group reported that one of seven injured women, Ma San San Win, 14, had died at Minbya General Hospital in the late afternoon and transportation was being arranged to have another three women from Sa Par Htar village—Ma Aung Than, Ma Win Kyi and Ma Aye Nandar—taken to Sittwe General Hospital.

On Sunday, a woman from Myaung Bway village was also struck by a bullet in the back, and another three villagers sustained minor injuries.

In a battle update, the AA claimed on its website on Monday to have killed at least 40 Tatmadaw soldiers in Sunday’s fighting in the villages of Minbya’s Shwe Ta Mar and Aung Taing. The website said fighters clashed with Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 417, which is under the control of Light Infantry Division (LID) No. 99, and retrieved the bodies of 10 deceased Myanmar military soldiers and confiscated a number of firearms and ammunition rounds.

The AA said the fighting lasted nearly six hours, and acknowledged the loss of three fighters and the injuries of four. It said the Myanmar military reinforced troops with two Navy vessels near Minbya.

Myanmar military spokesman Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun, of the Office of the Commander-in-chief, told The Irrawaddy that he had no information on civilian deaths as of this afternoon.

AA officials predict fighting will intensify in the coming days.

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