MALAYSIA

Two Myanmar politicians escape 'assassination' bid in Kuala Lumpur

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 February, 2014, 4:13am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 February, 2014, 4:13am
AFP

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Two Myanmar politicians from a western state riven by deadly communal violence narrowly escaped a suspected assassination bid during a visit to Malaysia last week, a report said.

Malaysia's state-run Bernama news agency quoted police as saying Aye Maung and Aye Thar Aung were fired upon by a gunman aboard a motorcycle in a busy shopping area of Kuala Lumpur late on Wednesday.

Several shots were fired at a car carrying them and several companions, but no one was injured, said the report.

The two politicians are from the Arakan National Party, which represents the mostly Buddhist Rakhine, the largest ethnic group in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

The state has been torn by several episodes of violence since 2012 between Buddhists and Muslims that left scores dead and displaced 140,000 people - many from the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority.

The gunman and an accomplice driving the bike escaped, said the report, adding the incident was "suspected to have been an assassination attempt".

Aye Maung, a member of parliament, is former chairman of an earlier Rakhine party that has been accused by Human Rights Watch of encouraging violence against Rohingya.

He is also a member of a commission set up by Myanmar's government to investigate the Rakhine sectarian violence. Its findings have been criticised by Rohingya activists as biased.

Malaysian police confirmed that the visitors were shot at, but declined to give details.

Zaw Htay, director of Myanmar President Thein Sein's office, said on his Facebook page that the politicians were among a group of six people who arrived in Malaysia on January 30 on a private visit. They returned to Yangon on Friday.

Mohammad Sadek, a leader of Rohingya living in Malaysia, said he did not think Rohingya exiles were behind the attack. "There was no attack from the Rohingya. We're still trying to live in peace and harmony," he said.

The United Nations has registered 32,000 Rohingya as refugees in Malaysia, but many more are believed to be in the country.