Security tightens in Rakhine State following police killings

The Myanmar Police Force has tightened border security in Rakhine State in cooperation with the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Defence Services) following an attack by unidentified assailants on police outposts in the state, said Police Chief Zaw Win yesterday.

On Sunday, the assailants attacked three outposts, killing nine police officers and members and injuring five. One officer remains missing. A curfew (Section 144) was imposed in Maungdaw district after the attacks.

Yesterday, the information minister, the police chief, the deputy foreign affairs minister, the permanent secretary of the religious affairs ministry and the permanent secretary of the ministry of labour, immigration and population, held a press conference to address the killings of police officers in Maungdaw and Yathaedaung townships at the information ministry in Nay Pyi Taw.

Zaw Win said: “We have deployed more security forces in Rakhine State than other regions and states. We need to deploy a sufficient number of police officers there. Take a look at the incidents—there was weakness in the deployment of police patrols and ambush patrols. However, I cannot reveal the number of officers deployed because it is a matter of security.”  

“We have a way to ensure security and rule of law so as to avoid the similar cases there.  We will cooperate with the Ministry of Defence on military operations and with the home affairs ministry on security and the rule of law. Now we are moving troops to the affected areas by helicopter,” he added.  

The police force established cooperation with the Tatmadaw shortly after the incidents, he said.

Myint Kyaing, the permanent secretary of the ministry of labour, immigration and population, said: “Our ministry is exercising tight immigration rules. As a result, the ministry will enact tighter measures. The assailants chanted the name ‘Rohingya’. Since the colonial era in 1921, our country has had no Rohingyas—just Begalis. According to the census collected after the country gained her independence, there were no Rohingyas—Begalis only. We assume that the assailants chanted the name ‘Rohingya’ at the instigation of some organisations.”

The deputy foreign affairs minister said: “I would like to explain it from an international point of view. The new government is making strenuous efforts to reduce high tensions and build understanding, trust and harmony between the two communities in Rakhine State. These incidents coincided with the UN General Assembly. Recently, the US lifted its sanctions against Myanmar. The EU said it would not submit its report on human rights in Myanmar. At this crucial juncture, those who want to bring international attention to Rakhine affairs might have carried out these attacks. We need to respond in line with the law.”

The police chief said: “The attacks may be connected with the seizures of stimulant tablets in Maungdaw Township and other economic reasons. The losers may have carried out these attacks.