Bengali extremist terrorists launched a series of coordinated terrorist attacks on 30 police outposts in Maungdaw beginning on August 25. Terrorist and arson attacks were endlessly taking place in the villages in and around Maungdaw. Together with firefighters, town dwellers and security forces participated in putting out fires with strenuous efforts. Arson attacks in Maungdaw urban areas got smaller on September 8. While putting out fire, firefighters encountered being shot and mine attacks.
The Daily Eleven interviewed Thant Zin, staff officer of Fire Services Department in Maungdaw regarding these situations.
‘Our firefighters have to retreat as shootings from the side where fires do not break out come to us when 36 firefighters with five fire engines are collectively putting out big fires’
Q: Please tell us about the fire situation taking place in Maungdaw?
A: The township administrator issued a curfew of 144 on August 9 in 2017. Our firefighters warned the public around the town to be on the alert for fire. On August 25 early morning, terrorist attacks were launched in and around the town. We heard gun sounds and so we placed special emphasis on security of first station. We had to put out fire starting on August 27 as we saw arson attacks in eastern of Myoma ward.
Q: Can you tell us difficulties facing you in putting out fire while terrorist attacks were being launched?
A: Arson attacks launched by ARSA terrorists broke out at the back of Zawtikaryon monastery. We were being shot with man-made guns while we were putting out fire. But we had to put out fire while taking cover. We had to put out fire not to keep on catching fire to another monasteries and houses that were next to. We heard the sound of explosion of hand-made mines. Dangers were around us. Since the fire was larger, we used 36 firefighters with five fire engines. We retreated as shootings from the side where fires did not break out come to us when 36 firefighters with five fire engines were collectively putting out big fires. We asked for help from security forces. Security forces had to carry out area clearance work and after that we had to put out fire again. The fires went on from August 27 to 29. We were being shot, but any of us was not dead or injured. We managed to put out fires successfully.
Q: What did you find after putting out fire? Did you encounter being shot?
A: Security forces saw things collected in the houses to set fire. We had to know this point from the security forces. Our firefighters went to wait as the fire broke out. While our firefighters were putting out fire, the terrorists fired warning shot to us. We encountered like this in person. While we putting out fires beside Zawtika monastery, we saw the terrorists shooting us with man-made guns.
Translated by Win Htut