Rohingya insurgents ambush Myanmar military truck, five wounded

Armed military troops and police force travel in trucks through Maungdaw, located in Rakhine State. (AFP)
Updated 06 January 2018

Rohingya insurgents ambush Myanmar military truck, five wounded

YANGON: Rohingya Muslim insurgents ambushed a military vehicle in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, wounding five members of the security forces, state media and officials said, and the rebels claimed responsibility for the rare attack.
A wave of raids by the insurgents on security force posts on Aug. 25 sparked sweeping army counter-insurgency operations in the Muslim-majority north of the state that led to widespread violence and arson and an exodus of some 650,000 Rohingya villagers to neighboring Bangladesh.
The United Nations condemned the Myanmar military campaign as ethnic cleansing. Buddhist-majority Myanmar rejected that.
But since Aug. 25, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgents, who claimed responsibility for the coordinated raids on 30 security posts, have mounted only a few sporadic attacks.
The military said “extremist Bengali terrorists ARSA” carried out the Friday attack on a truck taking someone to hospital.
“A vehicle ... was attacked by 20 insurgents from the mountain using homemade mines and small arms,” the government said. The military said there were about 10 attackers.
An ARSA spokesman said his group had carried out the attack.
“Yes, ARSA takes responsibility for the latest military movement,” the spokesman told Reuters through a messaging service.
He said further details may be revealed later.
The ARSA dismisses any links to Islamist militant groups and says it is fighting to end the oppression of the Rohingya people.
The Yangon-based Frontier Myanmar magazine quoted a resident of a nearby village as saying sporadic gunfire had been heard at the time of the ambush. A state-run newspaper reported on Saturday that fighting continued after the ambush.
The area is largely off-limits to reporters.
Myanmar and Bangladesh have been discussing a plan to repatriate the Rohingya refugees but more insecurity in Myanmar is likely to raise doubts about how quickly that might take place.


New Zealand volcano eruption death toll rises to 18 as body search continues

Updated 5 min 25 sec ago

New Zealand volcano eruption death toll rises to 18 as body search continues

  • A land search early Sunday failed to find any sign of bodies and divers returned to the sea in the afternoon
  • Disaster has raised questions about why tourists were allowed on a volcano where experts had recently raised threat levels

WELLINGTON: The death toll from New Zealand’s White Island volcano eruption rose to 18 Sunday, including two people whose bodies have not been recovered, police said.
A land search early Sunday failed to find any sign of the missing pair and divers returned to the sea in the afternoon amid increasing speculation both could be in the water.
Deputy police commissioner Mike Clement said there was “every chance” the bodies had been washed into the sea from the stream where they were last seen Monday.
He added that searchers were “satisfied that the area we searched near the jetty is clear of the bodies.”
“The rescue teams are frustrated. We understand completely how frustrating it is for loved ones who want the bodies back,” Clement said.
Forty-seven people were on the island — a popular tourist attraction — when the explosion happened.
The death toll now stands at 18 after an Australian victim who had been repatriated to Sydney died in hospital almost a week after the deadly eruption.
Another 26 survivors remain in New Zealand and Australian hospitals, of which 20 are listed as “critical” and fighting for their lives after the eruption on the desolate island, which is the country’s most active volcano.
The family of the latest victim have requested his name and age not be released.
Police on Sunday named seven victims who have been officially identified including New Zealand tour guide Tipene James Te Rangi Ataahua Maangi, 24.
Four were Australians — Zoe Ella Hosking, 15, her stepfather Gavin Brian Dallow, 53, 51-year-old Anthony James Langford and Karla Michelle Mathews, 32 — along with Matthew Robert Hollander, 13 and Berend Lawrence Hollander, 16, who were US citizens with Australian permanent residency.
Clement said although the land and sea searches had so far been unsuccessful in finding the remaining bodies, police had not given up hope.
“There will come a time when we’ve done everything we can do, when we’ve done everything that’s sensible but we’re not there yet... we don’t give up easily,” he said.
Scientists monitoring White Island said there had been no further significant activity since last Monday’s eruption but the risk remained.
A glow was visible from the vent area overnight “which confirms there is a high heat flow present,” said Geoff Kilgour, a volcanologist with GNS Science, which monitors seismic and volcanic activity in New Zealand.
“This has been confirmed today by an aerial observation this morning that noted an active crater is emitting volcanic gas at a high rate and very high temperature” above 200 Celsius.
The disaster has raised questions about why tourists were allowed on a volcano where experts had recently raised threat levels.