On This Day

The Deadly Bombing That Killed Myanmar's First Foreign Minister

By Wei Yan Aung 18 September 2019

YANGON—On this day seventy-one years ago, U Tin Htut, the first foreign minister of Myanmar post-independence, died from injuries sustained in an orchestrated bombing on the streets of Yangon. He was also the first person from Myanmar to become an officer in the Indian Civil Service.

At the time of his assassination, he was serving as commander of the Union Auxiliary Force, formed to suppress communists and leftists inside and outside the Myanmar military.

U Tin Htut was mortally wounded on September 17, 1948 when a bomb exploded in his car. A grenade was reportedly thrown into his car as he was returning from the offices of The New Times of Burma, the English-language newspaper he published at the time, on Sparks Street in Yangon (now named Bo Aung Kyaw Street).

The 54-year-old died the following day, according to the Yangon Police Chief at the time, U Ba Aye. There was speculation that the assassination was carried out by members of the then-ruling Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League, while others suggested that rebels were responsible for the assassination. The perpetrators were never identified.

As an adviser of General Aung San, the Cambridge-educated U Tin Htut was instrumental in negotiations for Myanmar’s independence including the Panglong and Aung San-Attlee agreements. He also played a significant role in drafting Myanmar’s first constitution as well as the country’s foreign relations and financial matters.

All of U Tint Htut’s three younger brothers were prominent figures in Myanmar politics. All of them were educated in England: Justice Minister U Kyaw Myint, who chaired the tribunal that tried the assassins of Gen. Aung San, Ambassador U Myint Thein and Yangon University Rector Dr. Htin Aung.