YANGON – Six soldiers were injured when their vehicle was struck by what police believe was a remotely detonated landmine in northern Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township on Friday morning, a border police officer in Kyein Chaung village told The Irrawaddy.
The blast occurred near Tarein, an ethnic Arakanese village in the northern part of the township about 30 km from downtown Maungdaw. According to the police officer, the six soldiers were escorting an Army officer who had fallen ill and was being transported in a civilian vehicle to Maungdaw to receive medical treatment. The police officer could not identify the soldiers’ regiment.
As the vehicle was passing Tarein at around 10.30 a.m, it was targeted by what appeared to be a remotely detonated landmine, causing minor injuries to the six soldiers and the civilian driver. The sick officer was not injured in the blast.
Following the blast, the vehicle came under attack from gunmen apparently positioned on a nearby hill, but the passengers managed to escape further injury. It was unclear whether the attack was carried out by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) or an Arakanese armed group.
The police officer said a remotely controlled landmine was likely to blame, rather than a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). “If it was an RPG, the vehicle would have been blown to bits. I’m pretty sure this was a landmine attack,” he said.
He speculated the ambush was the work of an Arakanese armed group, rather than ARSA militants, given the location of the attack near an Arakanese village and the fact that ARSA usually attacks at night. Security forces were on the scene quickly and a hunt for the attackers was under way by 1 p.m.
On Dec. 28, an Arakanese resident of Tarein was killed in a machete attack while fishing near a Muslim village. Authorities have yet to identify any suspects in that attack. In early December, a mine detonated on the Ann-Myebon Highway shortly after Rakhine State Chief Minister Nyi Pu’s convoy passed by. An Army truck was hit and four soldiers were wounded.