SAC shelling in Rakhine State kills and wounds civilians including children
12 Dec 2022
An attack on Gyit Chang Village, Maungdaw Township
Key Event Details
The attack is claimed to have occurred on 16 November 2022 during a local villagers barbeque in Gyit Chaung (ဂြစ်ချောင်း).
Alleged shelling occurred around 1230 local time from a claimed nearby SAC military post located in Kyein Chaung [21.092015, 92.336977].
At least 11 to 13 villagers claimed to have been killed, including three children, with between 27 to 30 reported injured.
Kyein Chaung Hospital [21.083338, 92.336132] in Kyein Chaung was the location for the majority of the footage collected due to many villagers needing immediate medical attention.
The Arakan Army (AA) has blamed State Administration Council’s (SAC) troops, stating it was deliberately firing at civilians. It is alleged the SAC tried to bribe local villagers with money to state that the AA conducted the attack, or that they didn’t know which side of the conflict fired the mortars.
On 16 November 2022, around 1230 local time, a children’s barbeque (claimed to be for a child’s naming ceremony) was allegedly attacked by an SAC military outpost in Kyein Chaung village (ကြိမ်ချောင်း), Maungdaw township, Rakhine state. Online reporting states the damage was a result of three or four separate mortar shells, resulting in at least 11 to 13 deaths, including three children, and around 27 to 30 villagers injured. Content from DVB mentions a total of 50 people injured. Those injured were rushed to Kyein Chaung Hospital [21.083338, 92.336132], just west of the region attacked. Those with more severe injuries were allegedly rushed to a larger facility at Maungdaw District Hospital in Maungdaw, after initial assessment in Kyein Chaung.
The artillery shells were said to be fired from a nearby military post occupied by Border Force Police Unit 7. The local SAC post is known as Kyein Chaung (in Burmese) or Raing Chaung (in Arakan) (24) Camp (ကြိမ်ချောင်း (၂၄)စခန်း) in Kyein Chaung, with claims of Border Force Police Unit 7 being stationed there.
A DVB article claimed that after the attack, Raing Chaung (24) Camp soldiers tried to bribe the locals to either state in interviews that the other side (the AA) fired the weapons, or that they didn’t know which side fired the mortars. Reports say threats were made, and that some villagers did give forced statements due to this exchange.
It is likely that the SAC troops shot these weapons, but an intent to attack civilians, particularly children, cannot be fully assessed. Regardless of this, civilians continue to be affected by the rising conflict in Rakhine state between the AA and SAC forces.
Myanmar Witness has been able to verify:
The location of the Maungdaw District Hospital [21.083338, 92.336132] in Kyein Chaung has been geolocated and verified as the location where the villagers were taken after the attack in Gyit Chaung, as shown in figure 1.
Figure 1: Geolocation of the hospital in Maungdaw township where the victims were taken for medical care after the attack, located in Kyein Chaung village (ကြိမ်ချောင်း) [21.083338, 92.336132]. (Source of left image: Burma Human Rights Network; Source of right image: GoogleEarth).
The investigation walkthrough
Figure 2: Location map of the Kyein Chaung and Gyit Chaung region in Maungdaw township, Rakhine state, showing where the claimed firing location and two claimed attack zones were in relation to the geolocated hospital nearby. (Map created using Datawrapper).
Initial imagery of the incident appeared from Maungdaw District Hospital (shown in figure 3,) due to many villagers arriving for immediate medical attention. In the video, the individual filming pans to the left where an ambulance is stationed, presumably after delivering villagers to the hospital.
Figure 3: Footage from the Maungdaw District Hospital arrival scene, with use of motorcycles and an ambulance used for delivering injured villagers (seen in the red box on the right). (Sources: For right image: 24hour information myanmar, for left image: Western News Agency).
The image of the ambulance appears to show movement into or out of the vehicle - people are wounded, the crowd is watching, a casualty is being treated, people are crowding inside the ambulance (shown in figure 4). There is also a man who carries an injured child, walking towards the ambulance. In the lower image of figure 3, a child is seen sitting on the lap of a woman, right by the ambulance (with its trunk closed). In the upper ambulance image, the same woman seems to look inside it, while a man carries the child in this direction. It is most likely that the medical facility is a small clinic, where victims arrived to receive initial and immediate medical care. Reports note some of the victims were later transported to a bigger hospital for more advanced care.
Figure 4: Footage of what appears to be the arrival scene of those injured and several onlookers, with a focus on the woman marked in red, the minor in yellow and another man that appears in both images in blue. (Upper image Source: Development Media Group) (Lower image Source: Arakan Princess Media).
The alleged casualties, which locals confirmed to The Arakan Express News, includes 11 names of those allegedly killed in the attacks, shown in figure 5, with three children listed. Reports of a child as young as 6 months old was said to have later passed away, following medical treatment, on 21 November 2022.
Figure 5: The list of names reported dead from the 16 November 2022 attack in Gyit Chaung village, claiming the 7th Division of the Military Council Army was at fault. Translation by MW (Source: The Arakan Express News).
The attack site
A claim of one of the homes in Gyit Chaung village to be damaged from the attacks was stated to be from the given location in figure 6, but no footage has appeared to provide verification on this.
Figure 6: Claimed home to be hit by mortar shelling on 16 November 2022 in Gyit Chaung village [21.091161, 92.355862]. (Source: Redacted due to privacy concerns).
Gyit Chaung village damage evidence was not widely identified online; however, some images appeared in connection to this event showing damage to what appears to be a domestic structure. This was allegedly a result of a mortar strike from the 16 November 2022 attack. Although unverified, these images are shown in figure 7. The connection between figures 6 and 7 is possible, but cannot be determined at this stage.
Figure 7: Imagery claimed to be from Gyit Chaung village, showing roof and wall damage to a building. (Source: Both redacted due to privacy concerns.
The Arakan Army website shared a visual map of the alleged locations of interest for this incident, including the local SAC base (Rang Chao (24) Camp), where they claim the attack originated, as well as the two alleged impact locations in Maungdaw township. This visualisation is shown in figure 8.
Figure 8: visual satellite imagery with claims of the attacks originating at the SAC Rang Chao (24) Camp, as well as the impact locations in Maungdaw township on 16 November 2022 (Source: Arakan Army).
The visualisation posted by the Arakan Army puts the location of the strike at Kyein Chaung village, and the origin location as နခခ (၇) Border Guard Police Unit 7. It also uses the phrasing of “စစ်ကောင်စီစခန်း”, meaning ‘military camp’. This reported location is circa 2.5km away from the geolocated images of the patients arriving at the medical facility.
Figure 9: Base location in Kyein Chaung village where the attacks allegedly originated from [21.091995, 92.337001].
Further investigation into the claimed attack sites is ongoing.
Post attack response
Claims of the SAC military trying to bribe the families involved in the attacks appeared on 16 November 2022, right after the injured were rushed to Kyein Chaung Hospital (shown in figure 10). According to the identified sources, these bribes were refused, leading members of the Myanmar Military to engage in intimidation tactics and instruct those affected by the attacks to attribute blame on the Arakan Army for the attack occurring.
Figure 10: Location of what appears to be SAC military personnel having an exchange with locals at Kyein Chaung Hospital [21.083338, 92.336132]on 16 November 2022. Geolocation done by MW using Google Earth (left image). (Source of right image: DVB).
The insignia on the military uniforms from the right image of figure 10 show the insignia of the 9 pointed star with the blue/white striped background, also zoomed in with figure 11. This insignia is typical for Rakhine State’s 5th Operation Command Headquarters, Taungup City troops (တောင်ကုတ်). This conflicts with the military’s statement, which refers to the Arakan Army as the perpetrators of this attack.
Figure 11: The zoomed in focus of the military insignia, showing the presence of Rakhine State’s 5th Operation Command’s Taungup City troops (တောင်ကုတ်), allegedly trying to bribe locals at Kyein Chaung Hospital, 16 November 2022. (Source: DVB).
Conflict between the AA and SAC military continues to rise in Rakhine state with skirmishes being identified on a regular basis. Maungdaw township has seen many attacks and retaliations from both sides of the fight, particularly since August 2022. Rakhine state will continue to be monitored in an attempt to verify claims of attacks and conflict, especially where such impacts the local civilian population.
Arakan Army AA
State Administrative Council SAC