Ten-Year-Old Shot Dead in Restive Rakhine State

By Moe Myint 20 May 2019

YANGON—A 10-year-old child from war-torn northern Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw Township was shot dead and four other civilians were injured over the weekend when a convoy from the Myanmar Army, or Tatmadaw, opened fire on a hillside near the monastery in Myauk Taung Village, residents say.

The Irrawaddy spoke to the victim’s brother, 14-year-old Maung Soe Soe Aung, who managed to escape the army’s shots on Sunday evening.

Maung Soe Soe Aung said he and his sister Ma Athein Chay were visiting an abbot at the Phaya Taung Monastery that evening. Everything appeared stable until military trucks arrived.

At about 5:20 p.m., as they were leaving the monastery, Maung Soe Soe Aung said a military convoy suddenly stopped along the Yangon-Sittwe Highway—situated opposite the monastery—then whistled multiple times before opening fire on the hillside. As the soldiers shot, two children ran down the hill in search of a safe hiding space when one of them—Maung Soe Soe Aung’s little sister—collapsed.

“Before we reached a creek, my sister was struck by a bullet in the head. I tried to wake her up multiple times but she did not respond. And then I decided to leave my sister and get back [to] the village,” said Maung Soe Soe Aung.

There, he informed his parents about the death of his younger sister.

With army troops stationed at the site of the shooting until early Monday morning, villagers were unable to retrieve the body until about 8 a.m., when, with a rescue team from the town of Kyauktaw, they took the body to Kyauktaw Hospital.

“I am totally discontent with the [their] actions,” Maung Soe Soe Aung said of the Myanmar soldiers.

Kyauktaw social activist Ko Zaw Win told The Irrawaddy that the shooting took place between the villages of Mar Lar and Myauk Taung. A three-year-old child from Mar Lar Village was also wounded in the back and transported to Sittwe General Hospital early on Monday morning and another is currently receiving medical treatment at Kyauktaw Hospital, Ko Zaw Win said, while two additional civilians sustained minor injuries.

A member of the rescue team said that some empty rounds near the shooting site and an unexploded 60-milimeter mortar were found where the little girl was killed.

Some trees and a pagoda were also damaged by bullets.

Colonel Win Zaw Oo, spokesperson for Western Command, told The Irrawaddy that AA troops attacked the army convoy near Mar Lar village on Sunday.

“Both sides opened fire but we have no idea if there are civilian causalities,” he said.

Arakan Army (AA) spokesman U Khine Thukha said that there was no battle between his guerillas and military troops on Sunday. He accused the army of deliberately targeting civilians after around 50 army troops were killed by AA commandos in serial clashes in the region last Monday and Tuesday.

The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the number of causalities.

The Irrawaddy’s Sittwe correspondent contributed to this report.