Friday, February 7, 2014

Rakhine leaders avoid injury after targeted gunfire in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR—Rakhine leaders Aye Thar Aung and Aye Maung managed to avoid injury after being targeted with gunfire in a gangland-style ambush in Malaysia on Wednesday night.

According to Yangon Region’s Rakhine Affairs minister, the incident occurred at 11:20 p.m., Malaysian standard time. After having dinner and going shopping at a department store, the two men were driving away from the mall when a car followed them and another vehicle blocked their car from the front. Then gunshots were fired from a motorcycle.

“Luckily, our car was a BMW with a strong metal frame, so five bullets went into the car’s body. Gunshots were also fired towards Dr Aye Maung from the car in the front. The car’s windshield shattered. There were five nine-millimetre bullets,” Aye Zaw Maung told Eleven Media last night, adding that eyewitness accounts indicate that the gunmen could speak Myanmar language because they were heard shouting “Run!…Run!” in Bamar.

Eleven Media contacted the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur but no one was available for comment. However, Myanmar’s presidential spokesperson and Deputy Information Minister Ye Htut confirmed the incident, saying that he was informed about it yesterday afternoon with a report from the embassy.

“Dr Aye Maung and Aye Tha Aung’s group reported the incident to the embassy today at about 1:30 p.m., Malaysian standard time. According to their report, gunmen riding two motorcycles shot them with at around midnight on February 5. According to their report, the bullets only hit the car and no one was injured. As soon as we received the report, we contacted the Malaysian police to protect them,” Ye Htut told Eleven Media last night.
The Malaysian police are still seeking the gunmen.

“The Malaysian police only learned about the case in the afternoon. For the moment, they are placing their priority on the security of our delegation. They will expose who the gunmen were,” said Ye Htut.

As well as the two targeted men (Aye Thar Aung is chairperson of the Arakan League for Democracy while Aye Maung is chairperson of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party), the shooting was also witnessed by Rakhine National Network chair Tin Htoo Aung, ALD central executive board member Hla Myint, and RNDP central executive board members San Kyaw Hla and Khine Kaung San.

The Rakhine delegation departed for Malaysia on January 28 at the invitation of Rakhine Social Services and Relief (RSSR). During their visit they held a seminar on the topics “Political Reforms in Myanmar” and “Rakhine State Politics.” Eleven Media has not been able to contact those targeted in the shooting incident, but Aye Zaw Maung said he has reached Aye Maung.

“Dr Aye Maung said he was lucky. He was the main target of the gunmen,” said Aye Zaw Maung.

Last year, several Myanmar migrant workers were killed during violent incidents in Kuala Lumpur, but Malaysian police have so far been unable to solve the cases.

“I can’t comment about their police procedures. What I know for sure is that they are handling this with sincerity. Last year’s crimes took place in areas full of gangs, so they may not be able to solve those cases,” said Ye Htut.

Last year, a Myanmar business owner was killed in Penang, Malaysia after he was shot while driving.

The Rakhine delegation returns home today, according to Zaw Aye Maung.
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