Senior Myanmar Army Officer Death Toll Mount in N. Rakhine

By Moe Myint 4 June 2019

YANGON—At least five high-ranking military officers, including two battalion commanders, have been killed in clashes between the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, and the Arakan Army (AA) in northern Rakhine State and neighboring Chin State’s remote Paletwa region within the last two weeks, according to the military and the AA.

AA spokesperson U Khine Thukha told The Irrawaddy that a battalion commander and deputy commander were killed along with several captains in Paletwa’s remote Maung Hna Ma village when soldiers were traveling in four private boats on the Kaladan River on May 26.

The Irrawaddy has learned the battalion commander was Lieutenant-Colonel Myo Win Hlaing, of Defense Services Academy (DSA) intake 42, while the deputy commander was Major San Naing Oo, DSA intake 46, of Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 218.

Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief confirmed to The Irrawaddy that two senior officers had died in clashes near Paletwa on May 26 but declined to confirm their names.

In separate fighting on Sunday, Major Myo Khant, a battalion commander recently transferred to the Rakhine frontlines from Kayah State, was also shot dead, according to a death notice posted on Facebook by his wife that day. The post has attracted a number of condolences from relatives and military officers.

On Tuesday, condolences for the 37-year-old were published in the state-owned newspaper The Mirror, which reported that he was killed on June 2.

When asked about the death of Myo Khant on Monday, Brig-Gen. Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy “it’s possible,” but declined to elaborate.

U Khine Thukha said that, judging by the dates on Facebook and in The Mirror, Myo Khant was likely killed in fighting in Minbya Township, where the AA and the Tatmadaw clashed on June 2. He said AA fighters had counted 16 dead soldiers but estimated that all together more than 40 were killed in action.

An AA battle update posted online Monday displayed photos of seven dead soldiers, more than 20 rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) rounds, a dozen MA assault rifles and one MG-42 machine gun, 20 mortar shells in various sizes and nearly a dozen Enagar grenades. Photos also showed the notebooks and national ID cards of Captain Kyaw Zin Tun and Lieutenant Hein Min Htet, both from Kalaw-based battalions.

U Khine Thukha confirmed that Hein Min Htet was killed in recent clashes. The fate of Kyaw Zin Tun remains unclear.

Friends and relatives of Ye Ko Oo, another military captain, wrote on Facebook that he was also reportedly shot dead during a battle in northern Rakhine but did not give details on the time or location. The Irrawaddy could not reach relatives by phone for confirmation as of Tuesday afternoon.

Brig-Gen. Zaw Min Tun declined to comment on Monday regarding the deaths of the high-ranking officers.

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