Myanmar junta kills 12 after firing into crowded market

Eighteen others are critically injured, rescue workers said.

Junta shelling of a crowded market in western Myanmar killed 12 people and critically injured 18 more on Thursday morning, rescue workers told Radio Free Asia.

A junta battalion on a nearby road fired indiscriminately into a marketplace in Rakhine state’s capital of Sittwe during the busiest time of day, locals said.

Sittwe has become a disputed territory since a rebel group, the Arakan Army, captured surrounding junta camps and seized six townships across Rakhine state. In early February, the Arakan Army demanded junta troops in Sittwe surrender before their arrival in the capital. 

The junta army’s grasp on the area has been tenuous after losing territories, but troops have attempted control by placing restrictions on the capital and making large-scale arrests. On Feb. 19, regime forces detained 500 people who landed in Sittwe off a flight arriving from Yangon.

A rescue volunteer who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons told RFA the dead have been sent to Sittwe Hospital’s mortuary, and the injured are being treated there

“Those 18 were critically injured and their injuries are life-threatening,” he said. “Some people died on the spot and others after arriving at the hospital. All of them are vendors and shoppers.”

The names and ages of the deceased could not be confirmed. However, most of them were women, children and the elderly, the volunteer added.

The shell was fired by a battalion near Shu Khin Thar road, residents said.

RFA contacted Rakhine state’s junta spokesperson Hla Thein for further details about the attack, but he did not reply. 

The Arakan Army ended a humanitarian-based year-long ceasefire on Nov. 13 with the junta when they began to attack border outposts and convoys across Minbya and Rathedaung townships. 

The Arakan Army released a statement on Tuesday saying that 111 civilians have been killed and 357 have been injured by small and heavy artillery fired by the junta from the ceasefire to Feb. 18, 2024.

RFA News