Myanmar official in charge of troubled town in Rakhine state stabbed to death

YANGON (REUTERS) - A Myanmar official who was the administrator of a town in troubled Rakhine state when seven people died there in rioting earlier this month has been stabbed and killed, the government said on Wednesday (Jan 31).

Police were treating the death of Bo Bo Min Theik as a case of personal enmity and it was not related to the violence in the region, said Zaw Htay, a government spokesman.

His body was found in his car on the highway from Mrauk U to the provincial capital Sittwe on Tuesday, district officials said.

Bo Bo Min Theik was replaced as the administrator of Mrauk U and posted to the provincial government in Sittwe three days after police shot and killed seven demonstrators from the majority Buddhist community after a local gathering celebrating an ancient Buddhist Arakan kingdom turned violent.

The violence underscores the challenges facing Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a country where dozens of ethnic groups have been clamouring for autonomy since independence from Britain in 1947.

Tensions in Rakhine, previously called Arakan, have surged since a sweeping Myanmar army operation in August inflamed communal tension and triggered an exodus of over 688,000 minority Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh, according to the United Nations.

The military has set up over 30 militias in the areas of Rakhine where many Rohingya lived and has provided arms to three of them, Myanmar's Parliament was told on Tuesday.

Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Aung Soe told a parliamentary session that the militias were set up in the Maungdaw district of Rakhine.

The Myanmar military launched a crackdown after Rohingya militants attacked security posts in Maungdaw on Aug 25, leading to the exodus.