Rakhine Chief Minister Survives Serial Mine Attacks

By Min Aung Khine 2 January 2019

SITTWE—Rakhine State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu has escaped uninjured following an attack on his convoy in which three mines were remotely detonated in northern Rakhine State on Tuesday evening.

The convoy which included a vehicle with the chief minister on board was traveling from Kyaukphyu through Ann when the mine blast occurred near the village of Pi Pin Yin on the outskirts of Mrauk U Township. According to the state information department, no one was injured

“No one was injured, but a vehicle was slightly damaged,” U Maung Maung, head of the state’s information department told The Irrawaddy.

This is the second attempted attack on U Nyi Pu—in December 2017, a roadside mine exploded not long after his motorcade passed by a spot on the Ann-Myebon Highway in Rakhine State. One army truck from an unidentified unit was hit by the blast, which resulted in four soldiers sustaining minor wounds.

Unconfirmed reports say that three mines exploded one after another as the convoy passed the attack location and one vehicle with a district administrator on board was damaged.

The Mrauk-U Township Police Force and the township administrator confirmed the mine explosions, but said that they still do not know further details.

Northern Rakhine State has been in a state of suspense for a number of weeks as the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) continue to launch attacks against each other, causing hundreds of villagers to flee for their safety and with reports of the Tatmadaw using villagers as human shields.

Late last month, the AA sent warning letters, each accompanied by a bullet round and the official AA stamp, to a local police station and a village administrator in Buthidaung Township, which is one of the armed group’s active areas. The letters threatened immediate action against anyone who attempts to disrupt the AA’s movement calling for a federal state.

On Wednesday morning, AA spokesperson U Khine Thukha told The Irrawaddy that his group had nothing to do with the mine attack on the chief minister’s convoy as the AA has never targeted civilians. He remarked that the attack could have been masterminded by the Myanmar military who may have targeted civilian government members in order to open army front lines in Rakhine State.

“Information about a chief minister’s trip is normally not in the knowledge of ordinary people. It is only known by some of those in [the chief ministers’] inner circles and military intelligence units,” said U Khine Thukha.