YANGON – A roadside mine exploded not long after a motorcade transporting Rakhine Chief Minister Nyi Pu passed by the spot on the Ann-Myebon Highway this morning, the state’s Border Affairs Minister Col. Phone Tint told The Irrawaddy.
An army truck from an unidentified unit was hit by the blast, which resulted in four soldiers sustaining minor wounds.
“The chief minister safely arrived back in Sittwe at 1 p.m. and we are now holding a meeting,” Col. Phone Tint said in a phone interview.
Rakhine State Municipal Affairs Minister Min Aung, who accompanied the chief minister on a several-day long trip to Gwa, Thandwe, and Taungup Townships to observe development projects, said that Ny Pu returned from Taungup yesterday and spent a night at Ann Township, where Myanmar’s Western Command is based.
He said the mine did not appear to have been targeting the cabinet members’ convoy as the explosion occurred an hour after the vehicles had passed the location, and the military truck was the more likely target. The attack occurred near a Chin village about 46 miles away from Ann Township. In addition to the four soldiers who were hurt, the truck’s windshield was destroyed by the explosion.
Min Aung said the army truck was not part of the security detail for the chief minister’s tour, as police provided protection during the trip hours.
A local resident told The Irrawaddy under condition of anonymity that the mine went off near a bailey bridge outside Toke Chaung village, which consists of about 100 households. The majority of the residents are ethnic Chin who farm for their livelihood. The scene of the explosion is a five-minute walk from the village.
“We’ve never heard of [such an incident] before in this area,” the villager said.
He said locals considered the mine blast a curious incident given the area is under the control of the military and no one was seriously injured. He also pointed out that the incident happened between the Western Command and the No. 9 Divisional Training School, which is located about 27 miles from Toke Chaung village and known locally known as the Kan Ne army training school.
In response to the public reaction to the mine explosion, Regional Minister Min Aung declined to comment, saying the issue is related to army affairs.
On Thursday, authorities in Mrauk-U Township, which is about 57 miles from Toke Chaung village, removed a couple of mines that had been planted under a bailey bridge.