Arakan village chief robbed at gunpoint

Dhaka (Mizzima) – Armed men disguised as border security officers raided the home of a village chairman in Arakan State late last Saturday, holding he and his family at gunpoint while robbing them of money and gold, the victim told Mizzima.

Tun Aye Maung, chairman of the Village Peace and Development Council of Thayakoak Village, Maungdaw Township, said about 20 men arrived at his home at about 10 p.m. on May 8 posing as border security force officers (Na Sa Ka) checking for unreported overnight house guests.

Upon being admitted, the men brandished guns and forced Tun Aye Maung’s wife to reveal the family’s hiding places for valuables. They took four million Kyats (about US$4,000) and some gold, the village chairman told Mizzima by phone.

“The robbers beat my wife and told her to show them where we kept our valuables, so she took them to where the money and gold were hidden. Although neighbours could hear [the commotion], they were afraid to follow and catch the robbers”, Tun Aye Maung said.

Although the family informed the local headquarters of the border security force, there were no clues as to the identities or whereabouts of the culprits, sources said.

Thayakoak is a village on the Burmese bank of the Naf River under Na Sa Ka Area No. 5 in the north of Maungdaw. The river forms the border with Bangladesh and the town is a trading post opposite the port and smuggling hot spot of Teknaf.

There have been many robbery cases reported in the border townships of Arakan, including Maungdaw, Butheetaung and Yathaytaung, with some raids involving similar modes of operation, such as the guise of border security officials.

Six robberies were reported in Maungdaw last month, the last on April 26. In one case, about 20 men posing as border security officers robbed a house in Pyarthar village, making off with 1.5 million Kyats, according to friends of the victims.

One Na Sa Ka Area No. 5 border security force sergeant said arresting the robbers was very difficult as it was very easy for them to cross over from Bangladesh and return because the border was very porous. “Every time we follow them, they run away and cross the Naf River by motorboat. We have submitted a plan to headquarters to monitor them and take suitable actions”, he said.

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