Myanmar’s police on duty in conflict-prone border areas across the country have asked to be equipped with modern weaponry, citing a number of attacks on police in Maungdaw, Rakhine State.
Since 2001, police say, they have been attacked at least seven times by Muslims in Maungdaw.
A police sergeant was killed on July 11, 2001 in an attack in Thugyi Village, Maungdaw Township. The same year on November 23, an attack on Laungdon Police Station in northern Maungdaw killed six security force members, with six rifles going missing.
Another police officer was killed there on September 2, 2004 and his gun went missing. Sixteen days later, four police officers were injured in a drive-by attack at night at the Kinchaung Police Station.
On April 22, 2009, police officers were injured in an attack by Thetchaung village residents during their night patrol.
During a police search for a fugitive on March 27 last year, two policemen were injured during a group attack by Muslims in Maungdaw.
On January 13 this year, a police sergeant along with his gun went missing during the night patrol in Du Chee Ratan as local villagers attacked.
“When they were surrounded by Bengali villagers in Du Chee Ratan village, the gun they used to shoot as a warning was not working. So the sergeant went missing along with his gun. The weapons used by police in the border area were out of date,” said a village elder from Karay Myaing village in Maungdaw.
Lieutenant Police Colonel Shwe Than in charge of Maungdaw District said that the police are not equipped with automatic firearms even though their duty is to maintain the rule of law.
“Some requests have been made to superior officials to equip such firearms, in order to maintain control during some difficult situations. In a life-threatening case, it’s very dangerous for a policeman encountering it if he is not equipped with a reliable weapon for self-defense,” said Col. Shwe Than.