Violent armed attackers targeted three border posts in Rakhine State in the small hours of 9th October, killing nine policemen and injuring five, said Police Maj-Gen Zaw Win, Chief of the Myanmar Police Force. Eight attackers were killed.
At the press conference held in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday evening, the Police Chief clarified that the attacks happened at three separate border posts. He said that the bodies of eight attackers were found. Two attackers were captured alive and one home-made pistol was seized along with two bullets and one cartridge of bullets, the police chief said.
The press conference came after a meeting between authorities and the State Counsellor in Nay Pyi Taw. Officials said the meeting was to discuss the information to be released not to cause worry and panic among the people, according to Union Minister for Information Dr Pe Myint.
According to the clarification at the press conference, 62 assorted arms, 10,130 rounds of ammunition, one bayonet and 27 cartridges of bullets were taken by the attackers in the three attacks.
As the surviving attackers retreated, police and troops from the local battalion clearing the area found 13 more weapons that the attackers apparently discarded.
The authorities concerned have ordered troops to keep the area clear, provide the rule of law and to recover the arms and ammunition seized by the attackers.
First attack on Kyikanpyin Border Post Headquarters in Maungdaw Township
At about 1 am, approximately 10 men attacked the outpost in Maungtaw Township. Six policemen fought back and seized one home-made pistol, two bullets and one cartridge.
After the first incident, another attack occurred at the central outpost of the headquarters around 1.50 am. Police at the outpost fought against approximately 90 attackers for about hour. The attackers held high geographic position, which prompted police to move to a hill on the left side of the central outpost and gained an advantage. The attackers withdrew around 4 am.
After the attackers withdrew, police inspected the area and found six dead policemen who had been stationed at hill No. 4. Their weapons had been taken by the attackers.
In addition to the accident, six police were killed and two injured and 51 arms and 10,140 bullets, one bayonet and 28 cartridges of bullets were taken away by the attackers.
Second attack on Kotankauk Outpost in Rathedaung Township
At 3 am, about 30 attackers jumped over the fence of the Kotankauk Outpost and attacked police with swords and spears. Ten policemen fought back, killing one attacker and capturing two. The attackers withdrew at about 3.45 am. One policeman was killed and two injured. Two weapons were taken away by the attackers.
Third attack on Ngakhuya Office
As officers from the Ngakhuya Office reinforced police at the Kyikanpyin Headquarters to repel an attack earlier in the morning, about 50 men attacked the Ngakhuya office with swords, spears and home-made weapons. The police remaining at the outpost fought back before the attackers withdrew at around 5.45 am.
After the fighting, seven bodies of the attackers were found. Two policemen were killed, one injured and one policeman remains missing.
Concerning the question on name of the organization that launched simultaneous attacks on various police posts, the chief of Myanmar Police Force said that authorities had detained two violent attackers and the process is underway to release the name of the organization based on interrogations of them at an appropriate time. In addition, he said that the Tatmadaw would cooperate with the police to relieve the concerns of local people, and troops were being mobilized with helicopter to block and arrest the fleeing attackers. Security has also been tightened in the area, according to the police chief.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs U Kyaw Tin responded to questions concerning the ways and means of dealing the issue with a neighbouring country. He said that the police have launched an investigation into the attacks according to the law and have been chasing the violent attackers in cooperation with the people and the Tatmadaw. If firm evidence of the involvement of another country, the government would discuss the issue with the Bangladesh ambassador but no involvement could be proved. If involved the government would invite the ambassador and ask for cooperation, he added. However, authorities are still waiting for evidences and such arrangement could take place sooner, he said.
As for the question on prevention of communal conflicts in Rakhine State, Union Minister for Information Dr Pe Myint said that one of the reasons to hold the press conference was to prevent such conflict based on rumours by releasing correct news as soon as possible. He also expressed his hope that the conflicts would not escalate further and the people would cooperate with the government to maintain stability, one of the foundations of the nation.
The police chief replied to question why the number of police deployed there was not enough. He said authorities have deployed the largest number of police in Rakhine State compared to other states and regions with an emphasis on security of the state. He added that the Ministry of Home Affairs is taking necessary measures to enhance security by mobilizing troops by helicopter. In addition, he said that Rakhine State had been divided into operation zone and security and law enforcement zone and Tatmadaw were mobilizing only in the operation zone and Tatmadaw troops were not normally deployed in the security and law enforcement zone.
Director of Maungtaw District General Administration Department U Ye Naing clarified that authorities have imposed curfew on the whole district.
In conclusion, the police chief said that there were loopholes in information gathering although the police and Special Branch of the police had gathered information in cooperation with the public.
Asked about situation of migration in the border area, Permanent Secretary U Myint Kyaing said the ministry has established four branch offices in the border in Rakhine State with 252 employees. There were 30 employees of the ministry’s Immigration and Population Department in the areas where attacks happened. There are 11 local offices and 26 camps in remaining areas to carry out immigration work.
The Permanent Secretary said that the attackers ambushed the outposts at the time when they could not be seen by others. He continued to say the employees of the ministry would tighten the security in cooperation with local police force.
In his answer to the question of what is the aim of the attacks and how the ministry is planning to discover the attackers who might be hidden among the villagers, Police Maj-Gen Zaw Win said there are several reasons behind the attacks. Recently, local police seized about six million of Yaba pills in Maungtaw in September. He said the attacks might related to the drug trafficking according to the nature of the terrorism. The Police Chief also pledged that Myanmar Police Force would manage to arrest those who involved in the attacks and bring to the court in cooperation with local administrative bodies, leaders of the communities and religious leaders.
Measures are being taken to ease the tension between the two communities and to build trust between them, said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs U Kyaw Tin. He said that the violence coincided with the third committee meeting on human rights at the United Nations General Assembly, lifting of remaining US sanctions and announcement of EU not to submit human right report on Myanmar. Those who wanted to highlights the issue of Rakhine State might be involved behind the scene, he added. Then he said that it was necessary for the government and the people to respond in accordance with the law or otherwise would be blamed by the international community.
In conclusion, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs U Kyaw Tin urged all to react in accordance with the law as human rights report on Myanmar was scheduled at the third committee meeting at the UN, and he promised to discuss the issue in the speech at the UN in October.
The ministry will be in touch with the Bangladesh Embassy.—Myanmar News Agency