Security Forces Open Fire On Crowd Of Detainees in Rakhine, Kill Six

Tatmadaw-led security forces have shot dead six villagers who were among hundreds detained in northern Rakhine on suspicion of links to the rebel Arakan Army, a military spokesperson has told Myanmar Now.  

Another eight were wounded and four are unaccounted for after members of a combined force of soldiers and police opened fire on a crowd of detainees in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The killings happened at around 2am in the village of Kyauktan in Rathedaung township, where the military says it detained 275 males between the ages of 15 and 50 for interrogation.

The men and boys have been held in a school since the morning of April 30, local sources told Myanmar Now.

Major General Tun Tun Nyi, vice chair of the military’s True News Information Unit, said security forces had no choice but to shoot because detainees were threatening to assault them.

“They began forming a crowd and making a rallying cry to assault the security forces” he told Myanmar Now.

He refused to give further details, to name of the regiment responsible, or to reveal the number of security personnel present, citing “security concerns”.

The deaths will fuel outrage over the treatment of those taken into custody in the conflict.

Late last month three Rakhine men detained by the Tatmadaw died and their bodies were secretly cremated. An army spokesperson at the time said they died of “natural” causes.

Roads blocked

The military has blocked all roads to Kyauktan village, which is home to about 2,500 people, and is only allowing people in and out with their permission.

Hla Tun, a former administrator from the village, said he heard gunshots and screaming late Monday night.

U Oo Than Naing, a local MP, said he tried to enter Kyauktan village Tuesday morning and to retrieve the bodies, but was refused.

The detainees were suspected of fleeing an AA makeshift camp in Buthidaung township that was recently raided by Tatmadaw troops, according to a statement posted on the website of the commander in chief, Min Aung Hlaing.

Hla Tun denied that the villagers had any links with the AA. “All the detainees are our villagers. No one belongs to AA,” he said.

Videos shared on Facebook Tuesday morning show a group of wounded men with bandaged arms and legs arriving at the public hospital in Rathedaung.

‘Killing innocents’

Family members have been trying to retrieve the remains of those killed in the shooting, local sources said.

The Arakan Army has been trying to establish a major presence across northern Rakhine State as it pursues its goal of greater autonomy from the central government.

While the group is believed to have grown in popularity among the Rakhine population in recent years, rights advocates have accused the Tatmadaw of indiscriminately detaining civilians with no links to the group.

Khine Thu Kha, a spokesperson for the AA, said the group had no links with anyone in Kyauktan village and had never clashed with the Tatmadaw near the village either.

The Arakan National Party has condemned the shootings and accused the Tatmadaw of killing innocent villagers detained on groundless charges.


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