One Killed, Three Hurt as Myanmar Navy Sinks Boat Carrying ICRC Relief Goods in Rakhine State

By The Irrawaddy 28 October 2020

A boat driver was killed and three people were injured when their vessel transporting ICRC aid supplies to internally displaced person (IDP) camps in northern Rakhine State’s Rathedaung Township was fired upon by the Myanmar navy on a river in the township on Wednesday.

The boat, which left the state capital Sittwe loaded with ICRC relief goods bound for Rathedaung on Wednesday morning, came under fire on the Mayu River between Pyin Win and Kan Pyin villages, said U Maung Than Wai, one of the injured. Two other people on board the boat sustained severe injuries and were initially treated at Zaydi Pyin Hospital before being transferred to Sittwe General Hospital.

U Maung Than Wai claimed he and others aboard the vessel jumped into the river after coming under fire, adding that the navy sailors burned the boat afterward.

The military’s Information Team said in a statement released on Wednesday evening that “Arakan Army troops were on the boat and attacked the navy first. The navy shot back, thus the boat caught fire and sank in the river.” The Arakan Army is an ethnic Rakhine armed group currently engaged in heavy fighting with the Myanmar military in Rakhine State.

The military said three navy boats were heading to Rathedaung from Aung Zayya Village when the attack happened near Min Island. It said messages circulating on social media that an ICRC boat was fired on and capsized were fake, adding that the military had checked with the ICRC and confirmed that the vessel did not belong to the relief agency.

Military spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that the boat was not owned by the ICRC, but was rented to transport its goods.

Residents of Rathedaung Township told The Irrawaddy they saw the boat burning from a distance. U Aung Myint Thein, the Rathedaung township administrator, confirmed the incident but said he was not able to provide further details.

Min Aung Khine and Htet Naing Zaw contributed to this story.

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