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Radio Free Asia

AA Fire on Helicopter Carrying Myanmar Government Officials in Rakhine

2020-02-19 -- A helicopter carrying Myanmar government officials was shot at Wednesday in the country's western Rakhine state where fighting between the insurgent Arakan Army (AA) and Myanmar's military has been ongoing.

The military confirmed to RFA's Myanmar Service that the helicopter was hit by bullets fired from the ground but no one was injured. The helicopter was carrying Win Myat Aye, Myanmar's Social Welfare Minister, and Nyi Pu, Rakhine's Chief Minister.

"It was at about 10:45 a.m. that the military helicopter carrying Win Myat Aye was shot at from the ground while it was traveling from Sittwe to Buthidaung," said military spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun.

"The helicopter was hit twice by bullets fired from small arms and none of the passengers were injured. They landed in Buthidaung safely, then took the same helicopter back to Sittwe at around 3 p.m.," he said.

"It's quite common for AA troops to fire randomly at helicopters flying overhead using their personal weapons," the spokesperson added.

Khine Thukha, the spokesperson for the AA, told RFA he could not confirm the incident.

"We have no information regarding this incident. One thing I can say is that our troops have been attacked by the Burmese military's helicopters and fighter jets on almost a daily basis during this period of continued armed conflict," he said.

"So if they fly over our troops, it's possible that they could be fired at, but I can only confirm the details of this incident after talking with the troops on the ground," he added.

Landmine kills Rohingya man in Buthidaung

In an unrelated incident, a Rohingya man from Buthidaung township's Sinthaypyin village was killed by a landmine Tuesday morning.

Myanmar's military announced later in the day that the landmine had been planted by the AA.

According to Zaw Min Tun, Mahmod Einnu was severely injured after he stepped on the landmine at around 7 a.m. He died in transit to Buthidaung Hospital.

The announcement said that so far, 13 civilians were killed and 35 injured by landmines planted by the AA, including a teacher and four Rohingya children in Htiketu Pauk village on Jan. 7.

Khine Thuka denied the accusation, saying instead that the military was responsible for Tuesday's incident.

"The military's troops fired heavy artillery [into the village] and the blast killed the Muslim man from Sinthaypyin," he said.

Meanwhile, Khine Thuka revealed to RFA that the AA arrested a member of the military during a battle near Phapyo village on Feb. 14, the latest of several POWs they have taken recently. RFA was unable to confirm this with the military.

Reported by Nayrein Kyaw for RFA's Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

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