Myanmar & COVID-19

Man Killed in Sword Attack After COVID-19 Argument in Myanmar’s Bago Region

By Kaung Myat Min 6 April 2020

Pyay, Bago Region — One man was killed and two others were injured in a brawl over a suspected COVID-19 case in Gyobingauk Township, Tharrawaddy District in western Bago Region on Sunday.

On Saturday, U Barbu Lay, a 100-household administrator — a community-appointed lower-ranking administrator responsible for around 100 homes in a ward — of Ywama North ward in Gyobingauk led community elders to inspect a guesthouse in the ward after he received reports that a guest was sick and coughing.

The administrator and the guesthouse owner argued. The following day, at around 7 pm, approximately 20 sword-wielding people raided the administrator’s house, a Gyobingauk police officer told The Irrawaddy.

According to the police, a 26-year-old man was killed in the incident. A 40-year-old man was seriously injured in his head and neck and remains in critical condition at Yangon General Hospital and a 58-year-old woman was also injured. All three are relatives of the administrator.

“There are three main suspects, including guesthouse owner U Maung Aye. They have run away and the police are after them. The guesthouse has been closed,” said the police officer.

A ward resident told The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity: “Someone saw a sick guest coughing as he bought medicine at a betel nut shop beside the guesthouse and told the ward administrators. They did not ask the guesthouse owner to close, they just asked him to send the sick guest to a quarantine center. The owner was angry and accused the administrator of driving a wedge between him and his neighbors.”

U Mang Aye and U Barbu Lay had a heated argument in front of the latter’s house before men with swords came, he said.

“Then U Barbu Lay asked his family to flee. Then his nephews arrived and the men attacked them with swords. It is as if there is no rule of law at all,” he added.

U Barbu Lay has filed a complaint with the police against the guesthouse owner and his accomplices.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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