Four Civilians Including Two Children Killed in Shelling of Myanmar State-Owned Bank

By Min Aung Khine 23 April 2020

SITTWE, Rakhine State—A bank clerk and two children were killed on the spot when an artillery shell struck the compound of a branch of government-owned Myanma Economic Bank (MEB) in Chin State’s Paletwa Township at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

The clerk, her 4-year-old daughter, and the 10-year-old son of another bank staff member were killed in the incident, according to Paletwa residents.

“The artillery shell struck the staff quarters of the bank in the downtown area at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Their bodies were blown to pieces,” a Paletwa resident told The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity.

Local residents said the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) and the Arakan Army (AA) had been fighting for the whole day in the mountains near the eastern bank of the Kaladan River, which runs through Paletwa, before the artillery shell landed in the bank compound.

Chin State Minister of Municipal Affairs, Electricity and Industry U Soe Htet confirmed the fatal incident.

“Three died as the artillery struck the back of the bank. Apparently the two sides were exchanging fire from the east and west of the town,” the minister told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

A 48-year-old woman also died on Wednesday morning when an artillery shell struck a vegetable garden where she was working between Meeletwa and Yokewa villages in eastern Paletwa, according to her family members.

“She was picking vegetables when the artillery shell struck the vegetable garden at around 9 a.m. We organized her funeral in the evening,” the victim’s sister, Daw Ma Than Shwe, told The Irrawaddy. The victim was a resident of Myoma Ward in Paletwa, and had three children.

Local residents in Paletwa are in a state of panic after the clashes killed four civilians in a single day. In February, the Tatmadaw and the AA engaged in fierce fighting to gain control of Meewa Hill, a strategic hill overlooking the Kaladan River on the border of Paletwa and Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw Township. The clashes lasted for more than 40 days, with both sides reportedly suffering heavy casualties.

The clashes around Meewa Hill effectively blocked water transport between Kyauktaw and Paletwa until recently, leaving Paletwa isolated and short of food.

According to the Chin State government, Paletwa is home to some 100,000 people who are either ethnic Chin or Rakhine.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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