Arakan Liberation Party officers shot dead in Rakhine State

Three officers from the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) and its armed wing, the Arakan Liberation Army (ALA), were shot and killed by unidentified assailants in the Rakhine State capital of Sittwe on Wednesday, members of the group said. 

The victims were identified as ALP chief of staff Gen Khaing Soe Mya, and Col Khaing Kyaw Soe and Cpt Khaing Thureinna of the ALA; they were found in a car in Sat Yone Su ward, where the ALP’s office is also located. 

They had been returning from an event at the Waytharli football stadium commemorating Myanmar’s Independence Day and organised by the Rakhine State military council. 

“One of our troops recognised the car and found that some people had been assassinated,” ALP deputy chair Saw Mya Yarzar Linn told Myanmar Now. “Upon reporting to the township administrator, we learned that those were our officers and that they were on their way back from the Independence Day celebrations.” 

She did not offer comment or speculation on who may have been behind the murders.

An eyewitness in Sat Yone Su ward said that locals in the area assumed that there had been a traffic accident when they went to survey the scene of the crime. 

“I saw three dead bodies but only from a distance. One body was slumped halfway out of the car, and his head had been blown open,” the individual said. 

Junta forces closed access to the road shortly after the attack and banned civilians from passing through, even to donate food to monks in the estimated 10 monasteries in the area.  

“We can’t even go to the market because there’s a risk that [the junta soldiers] will terrorise us just because they’re suspicious of us,” another local in the ward said. 

The ALP has been subjected to criticism by the Rakhine State public in recent months for attending “peace talks” held by the military council last June. Some 24 Rakhine civil society organisations released a joint statement condemning the ALP’s decision to meet with the military. 

Representing the ALP at the talks was central executive committee member Col Khaing Paw Lin, who was later detained by another Rakhine armed group, the Arakan Army, in early August. 

Tension with the AA has been high, and the ALP said in a statement at the time that the abduction threatened solidarity between the two ethnic Rakhine organisations. The ALP accused the AA of arresting several more of their officers and members in the past, many of whom they said were still in AA custody. 

Myanmar Now tried to contact AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha for comment on the shooting death of the three ALP/A officers, but the calls went unanswered. 

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