YANGON: An armed group in Myanmar’s conflict-wracked Rakhine state released on Friday three members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling party, who they had kidnapped ahead of November’s election, reports AFP.
The Arakan Army (AA) has for nearly two years been locked in battle with Myanmar’s powerful military, fighting for more autonomy for the state’s ethnic Rakhine population.Both sides stand accused of rights abuses, with hundreds killed or injured and some 200,000 civilians forced to flee their homes in an area under a strict lockdown—making independent reporting all but impossible.
In October—weeks before an election that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) was expected to win nationwide—gunmen descended on a campaign event in Taunggok township in southern Rakhine and abducted three MP candidates.
Accusing the NLD of “collaborating and covering up war crimes committed by the Myanmar Army”, the AA said the aspiring legislators would be freed only if those “detained unlawfully” by the government and the army were released. On Friday, “after discussions”, the trio were freed along with three soldiers also held by the AA, the army—known in Burmese as the Tatmadaw—said in a statement.