Myanmar Ministers Survive Attack on Military Chopper in Rakhine

By Htet Naing Zaw 19 February 2020

NAYPYITAW—A military helicopter carrying a Myanmar Union minister and the Rakhine State chief minister came under fire in Buthidaung Township in northern Rakhine State on Wednesday morning, according to the military. Both ministers survived the attack without injury.

Dr. Win Myat Aye, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, and Rakhine State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu were flying to Buthidaung Township when their chopper was attacked near Nyaung Chuang Village. They were on their way to visit refugees who have been displaced by fighting between the Myanmar army and ethnic armed group the Arakan Army (AA) in the area.

“It happened on their way from [the state capital of ] Sittwe to Buthidaung around 10:45 a.m Wednesday. The body of the chopper was shot twice. They are safe and the vehicle is now back in Sittwe,” military spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy.

The spokesperson blamed the AA for the attack.

“The AA tends to fire at choppers from villages. They don’t care if it reaches [the target] or not,” he said.

Khaing Thukha, spokesperson for the AA, told The Irrawaddy that he hadn’t heard about the incident. However, he said that if the helicopter flew over an area where there was a battle, it would likely be shot down because the AA has been targeted by airstrikes nearly every day.

“But I can’t say for the time being whether we did it or not,” he added.

Dr. Win Myat Aye is known as one of the most hardworking ministers in the National League for Democracy government and has played major roles in rehabilitation programs headed by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.