Soldiers clash with local residents in Minbya

Nov 18, 2008 (DVB), Four people have been hospitalised following a clash between soldiers and local people in Minbya in Arakan state on the evening of 11 November, according to local residents.

The problems started when some army officers from the Minbya-based Light Infantry Battalion 379, who had been drinking at a telephone shop owned by Myint Oo started harassing local women, a resident said.

This prompted a response from the local men, and then soldiers carrying bricks and bamboo sticks arrived on the scene and began attacking local youths, the resident went on.

"They brought sticks with them. There were about 40 people in the car holding sticks and they carried out attacks throughout the town," the resident said.

"They pointed their guns and ordered them not to do anything and to sit down and they beat them up," he said.

"They mainly targeted people with long hair. They also hit them with bricks."

Several youths were wounded in the fighting and four were admitted to hospital with serious injuries.

One of the four, Tun Aye Naing, son of Tha Tun Aye and Aye Tin Nyo, is now being treated at Sittwe general hospital and is said to be in a critical condition.

Doctors are preparing to send him to Rangoon for further treatment.

The resident said that the soldiers were driven away when a crowd of around 100 people turned up.

The crowd also went to the telephone shop and told the owner, Myint Oo, to leave town.

The resident said local people were feeling aggrieved because those who had not been involved in the incident were also attacked by the soldiers.

"I heard that the officers apologised, but Daw Aye Tin Nyo asked if they would allow her to slap their faces and then apologise," he said.

"If she can, she will report the incident to Naypyidaw , she said she doesn’t want the decisions to be made here."

Due to the gravity of the situation, the regional chief military strategist is said to be handling the case himself.

All the officers involved, except for the second-in-command who was in charge of the men, are being detained.

Local police, township authorities and the hospital were unavailable for comment.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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