Speculation Surrounds Murder of Rakhine Police Station Head

By Min Aung Khine 25 March 2019

SITTWE—The head of a police station in Rakhine’s Mrauk-U Township was shot dead on Saturday evening.

Police Lieutenant Kyaw Kyaw Hla, the head of Tein Nyo Police Station, was at an eatery some 90 meters from the police station when two unknown gunmen fatally shot him, according to the Mrauk-U Township Police Force.

“He was shot dead at an eatery. For the time being, we suspect he was shot by insurgents,” police captain Aung Thu Myo of Mrauk-U Township Police Force, told The Irrawaddy.

The police lieutenant was shot twice, in his temple and chest respectively, and died at Mrauk-U Township Hospital.

“We heard two gunshots near the police station, and [later] we heard that the police station head died of two gun wounds at the hospital. We don’t know who shot him,” a local resident of Tein Nyo Village, who requested anonymity told The Irrawaddy.

The police lieutenant and another police officer at the same station were sent warning letters accompanied by a bullet from the Arakan Army (AA) on Jan. 6.

In December, the AA sent warning letters, each accompanied by a bullet and the official AA stamp, warning the recipients against disturbing those who are “implementing the Way of Rakhita.”

Information officer of the AA U Khaing Thukha denied responsibility for the assassination and accused the Tatmadaw of intentionally complicating the situation on the ground.

“We have nothing to do with his fatal shooting. We gave him a warning letter, but it was just supposed to be a warning. We guess this was a plot by the military in a complicated situation on the ground. We guess [the military] intends to spoil our name among the public,” said U Khaing Thu Kha.

Some locals have said that it would be difficult for the AA to get into the area to carry out the assassination of the police lieutenant as there is a military logistics battalion outpost near the eatery.

“Yes, it is true that there is a military outpost that buys rice [from locals]. But no member of an armed group is distinct from ordinary citizens. Everyone knows the situation — the AA has sent warning letters, so for the time being we assume that it is done by them,” the head of Rakhine State Police Force Police Colonel Kyi Lin told The Irrawaddy.

There have been frequent fatal shootings in villages in Myebon and Kyauktaw townships in northern Rakhine since December, but authorities have not been able to identify the perpetrators.