A former air force major working as the security director at Myanmar’s busiest international airport was gunned down in front of his home in Mingaladon Township, Yangon on Monday evening.
Yangon International Airport’s head of security Ye Khaing, 46, was fatally shot on Khayae Yeik Thar Street 1 at a complex serving as a residence for many retired military officers, and died shortly after arriving at Military Hospital No. 1 in the same township.
The military council has yet to release a statement regarding the assassination, but posts in pro-junta Telegram propaganda channels said that two men on a motorcycle shot Ye Khaing repeatedly in the head and neck, hitting him a total of nine times.
The Urban Owls, a Yangon-based urban guerrilla group, released a statement on Monday evening claiming responsibility for the attack on Ye Khaing.
The Urban Owls have yet to communicate personally with Myanmar Now, but the publicly mandated National Unity Government’s regional military command for Yangon confirmed that the guerrilla group had conducted the attack.
According to Urban Owls’ statement, they were motivated by the aid Ye Khaing provided to the military council in arresting and restricting the travel of anti-junta activists at Myanmar’s primary international airport, particularly participants in the anti-coup civil disobedience movement (CDM).
A 30-year-old man who was once detained at Yangon International Airport said Ye Khaing was personally responsible.
“He was giving directions to the uniformed police officers. He came with three or four police officers, took me to a separate room, and took my computers and phones after they saw my name at Immigration,” said the man, who requested to remain anonymous out of concern for his security.
According to Ye Khaing’s LinkedIn profile, he was the operational director of Yangon Aerodrome Company Limited (YACL) in addition to serving as head of security for Yangon International Airport.
The profile also indicated that he had become the operational director of YACL just six months before his death, after having taken the job as the airport’s head of security in February 2020. However, his name does not appear on the list of YACL’s corporate directors recorded in Myanmar’s business registry, the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA).
Sergeant Zaya, a defector from the army who joined the CDM after the military coup of February 2021, said that former army officers had been handed jobs at the Yangon International Airport for years.
“There are several security officers who used to be air force police officers. Some are now working as pilots,” he said. “Ye Khaing may have been the highest-ranked former military officer working at the airport; we don’t know for sure yet and we’re trying to determine that.”
According to the Urban Owls’ statement, the group has compiled a list of military personnel that have abetted the military council’s persecution of activists, and vows to eliminate them.
The Urban Owls guerrilla group also claimed responsibility for the assassination of Min Tayza Nyunt Tin, an attorney working for the military council, in Thanlyin, Yangon in March of this year.