YANGON: The wife of a Myanmar military officer was killed by a pipe bomb as they moved into a new home in the northern Rakhine state, the army said on Friday (Mar 1), as the body count in the troubled region rises.
More than 740,000 Rohingya Muslims fled the state after an army crackdown in 2017 but security forces have turned their attention to a well-armed rebel group claiming to represent ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.
The Arakan Army (AA) has killed police and soldiers from Myanmar’s military and is believed to be behind attacks targeting officials and security forces.
A homemade pipe bomb filled with steel balls went off in the house of a newlywed major on Feb 26 in Buthidaung township as he and his wife were unloading furniture to move in.
She “died of wounds at the scene”, the statement said, adding that a vehicle delivering the furniture had been stopped along the way and searched by “six armed group members” in civilian clothes.
No group has claimed responsibility and the Arakan Army could not immediately be reached for comment.
Northern Rakhine state is inaccessible outside of government-steered trips and information is difficult to verify independently.
But the bombing is part of a wave of violence sweeping the northern part of the state in a conflict involving a patchwork of ethnicities and religions.
Three members of the ethnic Daignet minority were found in a ditch with their throats slit last month.
Two Myanmar police officers were killed on Wednesday when their convoy hit a landmine and was ambushed by Arakan Army insurgents who fired at the vehicles, according to state media and a police source in Rakhine.
In a sign of the growing complexity of the conflict, Myanmar’s military claims that the Arakan Army marched with Rohingya Muslim militants late last month across the border in Bangladesh.
The Rohingya fighters claim to represent hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Muslim minority huddled in Bangladesh camps.
UN investigators want Myanmar’s senior generals to be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya, but the army has denied almost all claims of atrocities committed against the group.
Violence in the strife-torn state was glossed over by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi last week at an investment forum where she touted Rakhine’s “untapped” economic potential and blamed the international community for focusing “narrowly” on its problems.