Mines Explode in Rakhine State’s Manaung Township Ahead of Myanmar State Counselor’s Visit

By Min Aung Khine 19 December 2019

SITTWE, Rakhine State—Despite three mine explosions occurring in the area just hours before her arrival, Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi completed her scheduled itinerary of events in Rakhine State’s Manaung Township on Thursday morning.

The mines exploded on a road near Nga In Cemetery some 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) from the town center, and about 5 miles from a solar power plant whose opening ceremony Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was attending on Thursday, according to Manaung residents.

“The mines exploded at around 6.30 a.m. The scene is only about two furlongs [400 meters] from the Manaung Hotel. We don’t know if the mines injured anyone. Local residents are concerned. So, we are warning our family members to be careful when they go outside,” Manaung resident Ma Saw Mon told The Irrawaddy.

“The mine explosions occurred in the west of the town, and the solar power plant is in the north of the town. The two places are quite far apart. I heard that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has arrived at the opening ceremony of solar power plant,” she added.

Security personnel are investigating the scene of the blasts, said Police Lieutenant-Colonel Maung Maung Soe of the Rakhine State Police Force.

“The blast was not powerful. It was a minor explosion. No one was injured. The opening ceremony of the solar power plant is being held now. The security personnel are investigating the scene. Later, we will release details,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The State Counselor traveled by military helicopter from Thandwe to Manaung, arriving at around 8.30 a.m. and attending the opening ceremony as planned. According to the Facebook page of the Myanmar State Counselor’s Office, she arrived back in Thandwe at around noon, after meeting with local people in Manaung.

The blast occurred despite tightened security ahead of her visit to Manaung.

The Manaung Township office of the National League for Democracy recently held a rally in support of party chair Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as she contested the genocide charge against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has visited Rakhine State only once before as State Counselor, traveling to Maungdaw in northern Rakhine in November 2017. She did not meet representatives of local political parties or civil society organizations on her single-day trip, but she did meet Rakhine State ministers at the lounge in the Sittwe Airport following her visit to Maungdaw, drawing criticism from some people in Rakhine.

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