Asia

Detained Myanmar reporter Aung Naing shot dead

Aung Naing (right) with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
Image caption Aung Naing (right) was close to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi

A Burmese journalist has been shot dead while trying to escape from custody, the army has said.

A military statement said that Aung Naing was arrested in Mon state at the end of September while covering clashes near the border between Thailand and Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.

The military accused him of working for an armed group in the area.

But his family and colleagues denied this, and activists said his death was a rights violation.

The military statement came in response to a request from Aung Naing's wife.

It said he had been shot dead on 4 October when he tried flee military detention by seizing a gun from a soldier.

The military described Aung Naing as a "communications captain" of a Karen rebel faction, but his colleagues said he was a reporter.

Aung Naing often reported on ethnic issues along the Myanmar-Thai border for several papers based in Yangon (Rangoon).

He had met opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on several occasions.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Campaigners say that journalists are still being taken to court by the authorities despite the government's pledges to improve press freedom

His wife Than Dar told the Irrawaddy newspaper that she had not been informed of his death.

She said she would bring a legal case against the army for torture and death.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Yangon says that while the media is now relatively free, anything to do with the army or its activities is still extremely sensitive.

Free speech advocate Zaw Thet Htway said the truth about his death needed to come out.

"Whether he was a journalist or an officer from an armed group, this is a human rights violation," he said.

The army has been fighting armed groups in eastern, northern and south-eastern regions, despite efforts to bring an end to six decades of conflict.

Recent clashes reported in Karen, Shan and Kachin states may jeopardise a ceasefire agreement planned for later this year, correspondents say.

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