Riot police clash with youths in Sittwe

Aug 25, 2008 (DVB), A solider from the riot police was killed and two others hospitalised after a fight broke out between the officers and about 30 local youths in the Arakan state capital Sittwe, locals said.

A Sittwe resident said the fight had started on Friday at around 9pm after police officers became abusive towards locals in Kathe ward.

"On that day, the three riot police personnel were drunk and they came to the ward and started shouting profanities at people around and chasing them around," the resident said.

"So the local youths in the neighbourhood lost patience and came out of the ward and started beating them up," he said.

"As of [yesterday], there is a military and police presence at every electricity pole and also heavy security in the wards near monasteries."

Lieutenant Saw Myo Htun was killed on the spot, while sergeant Zayar Thaw and another unidentified sergeant were admitted to Sittwe hospital's emergency unit.

The three were from riot police battalion 12, which is stationed in the Lawka Nandar pagoda compound.

After the incident, three military trucks came to Kathe ward and surrounded the neighbourhood while military personnel went round the houses of the youths who were involved in the fight.

When they were unable to find the young people, they arrested women from their families and elderly relatives instead.

Three youths turned themselves in at the police station on Saturday morning, but some of the family members remain in detention in Sittwe police station 1.

Sittwe police station 1 and officials at Naypyidaw were unavailable for comment.

Authorities are said to be particularly conscious of security in the run-up to the anniversary of the Saffron Revolution, and there have been rumours around the town that monks are planning to start new protests.

The area where the fight took place is close to monasteries where protests began on 28 August last year.

The heavy security presence remained as of Sunday evening, and locals described the atmosphere as tense.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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