Govt secures release of 5 Indians abducted in Myanmar

Photo for representation.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday said it has ensured the release of five Indians involved in a road project and five Myanmar nationals, including an MP, who were taken hostage by the ethnic rebel group Arakan Army in Rakhine state of Myanmar.

In a statement, it said the five Indian nationals, along with a Member of Myanmar Parliament, two local transporters and two speedboat operators were abducted by the Arakan Army on Sunday while on their way from Paletwa in Chin State to Kyauktaw in Rakhine. Their release was secured on Monday early morning due to the "timely intervention" of the Indian government, it said.

The abducted Indians, who were on way from Paletwa in Chin State to Kyauktaw in Rakhine, were engaged in building the Kaladan road project in Myanmar. One Indian national died in the Arakan Army's custody due to a heart attack, it added.

"According to information available, he was a chronic diabetes patient. The released Indian nationals, alongwith the body of the deceased, have reached Sittwe and will be leaving for Yangon on Tuesday for onward journey to India," the statement said.

The Arakan Army is a Rakhine based insurgent group founded as the armed wing of the United League of Arakan (ULA) and is fighting for greater autonomy of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.

Officials said this is first time the Arakan Army has captured foreign workers in the resource-rich area, which hosts a series of infrastructure projects linking India and Myanmar.

An AFP report said the rebels confirmed the 60-year-old Indian worker's death. "Unfortunately he suddenly died from exhaustion... we did not do anything to him," AA spokesman Khaing Thukha was quoted by AFP. "We did not target the Indians," he said, but rather the MP. 

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