NAYPYIDAW: A military helicopter carrying two senior ministers came under fire in northern Rakhine State.
The two ministers on board the chopper were Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister Dr Win Myat Aye and Rakhine Chief Minister U Nyi Pu, according to The Irrawaddy.
The helicopter was flying near Nyaung Chuang village in the Buthidaung township area, where the two ministers were scheduled to visit, when the attack happened on Wednesday morning.
No one was hurt in the incident in the area, where many refugees who have been displaced by fighting between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed group, the Arakan Army, are living.
Military spokesman Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun said the attack happened as the helicopter was flying from Sittwe to Buthidaung at 10.45am.
“The chopper’s body was shot twice. The ministers are safe and the aircraft is back in Sittwe.”
He added that the Arakan Army was responsible for the attack.
“The Arakan Army tends to fire at choppers from villages. They don’t care if it reaches (the target) or not.”
Arakan Army spokesman Khaing Thukha said he had yet to receive report of any attack, let alone one that involved the ministers.
However, he said if the military helicopter flew over an area where there was a battle, it would likely be shot down because the Arakan Army had been targeted by airstrikes nearly every day.
“But I can’t say for the time being whether we did it or not,” he added.
As a union minister, Myat Aye has a strong reputation as a hardworking leader in the National League for Democracy government.
He also plays vital roles in rehabilitation programs headed by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.