Young Mother Killed, Three Wounded in Artillery Strike in Myanmar's Rakhine

By Min Aung Khine 4 February 2020

SITTWE, Rakhine State – A 24-year-old mother was killed and three men were injured when artillery shells fell on urban areas of Kyauktaw Township in Rakhine State on Monday.

Ma Aye Aye Khaing, a mother of two children, was killed at her home in Peik The Ward.

“The artillery shell hit a tree near her house and she was hit by shrapnel,” Daw Ma Hla Kyi, the mother of the victim, told The Irrawaddy. The victim was survived by a 3-year-old son and a 2-month-old daughter.

Her relatives said the shell came from the direction of Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) troops stationed at Kan Gyi Shin Pagoda in the town, which often suffers civilian casualties amid fighting between the Arakan Army and Tatmadaw.

In another case, two men aged 62 and 47 were injured in their house in Pyi Taw Thar Ward. A municipal garbage truck driver, 17, was also wounded while driving his truck, according to residents.

The 47-year-old victim was seriously injured and taken to Sittwe Hospital and the two others received treatment at Kyauktaw’s hospital.

Peik The Ward is east of Kan Kyi Shin Pagoda near the town’s entrance. Residents reported hearing gunshots on Monday morning.

“The victim’s family members said the shots came from the direction of Kan Gyi Shin Pagoda. We don’t know exactly what happened. We just heard the sound of gunshots,” U Maung Hla Kyaw, a state lawmaker from Kyauktaw Township, told The Irrawaddy.

The central market closed following the incident and residents stayed at home. Four civilians were injured when Myanmar’s army and the Arakan Army clashed near the entrance of Kyauktaw on Dec. 28.

On Dec. 6, a fourth-grade student was killed and a woman injured in Kyauktaw.

At a press conference in Naypyitaw on Monday, Myanmar military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun confirmed the death and injuries, but said the Tatmadaw was not responsible. They were killed and injured in an exchange of fire when around 60 AA troops attacked government forces at Kan Gyi Shin Pagoda from three directions, the spokesman claimed.

He said the AA troops were wearing civilian clothing. The blame could not be put on a particular side, he said.

AA information officer Khaing Thukha said there was no fighting near Kan Gyi Shin Pagoda on Monday morning.

“Myanmar’s military, giving the excuse for the security of the town, has deployed troops in pagodas and stupas in the town. They fire heavy and small arms whenever they want. Civilians are killed or injured. We urge international organizations [to demand Myanmar’s military] withdraws its weapons from towns and villages,” said Khaing Thukha.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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