YANGON — The Office of the Commander-in-Chief said a Myanmar military major was killed during fighting with the Arakan Army (AA) in northern Rakhine State’s Buthidaung Township Friday night, near where the rebel group killed 13 border police officers in early January.
Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, a spokesman with the office, identified the dead officer as Maj. Aung Ko Nyein.
“This has been confirmed, and it happened in the same location where four [border police] stations were attacked in Buthidaung,” he told The Irrawaddy on Monday, declining to answer further questions.
On Sunday, Maj. Aung Kyo Nyeins’s wife, Daw Phyo Pa Pa Win, posted a short message to her Facebook account that said: “Now you left me with two daughters.” More than 200 users including some soldiers responded with condolences.
Masarita Nyarni, who identified herself as the major’s sister on her own Facebook page, posted messages and photos on Sunday stating that her brother was a graduate of the 44th intake at the Defense Service Academy and died during fighting in northern Rakhine. But she said he died Saturday, not Friday. The posts have since been removed.
The AA reported clashes with the military on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Kyauktaw and Mrauk-U townships in northern Rakhine and in Paletwa Township in neighboring Chin State, but not in Buthidaung.
A source close to the AA told The Irrawaddy that Maj. Aung Ko Nyein may have been killed during fighting between the military and AA in the mountains of Mrauk-U because the military had recently sent soldiers from various battalions to the area.
The AA claims it killed six soldiers in Paletwa and Mrauk-U on Thursday and that it killed at least two soldiers and severely wounded at least five in Kyauktaw on Friday. It said one AA fighter and an unspecified number of soldiers died in fighting on Saturday in Paletwa.
The AA also claims that the military randomly fired about 70 rocket propelled grenades and mortar shells ranging from 105mm and 120mm in size into a forested area in Paletwa on Friday. It said the shells produced an unusually large amount of smoke and that it was investigating whether they were chemical weapons.
Maj. Aung Ko Nyein’s death during fighting with the AA is the second involving a high-ranking officer that the military has confirmed since December.