A top Muslim lawyer who was gunned down outside Yangon airport was deliberately targeted, Myanmar’s ruling party has said, describing the assassination as a “terrorist act” against their policies.
Ko Ni, a legal advisor to the National League for Democracy (NLD), who spoke out against rising sectarianism, was shot in the head on Sunday afternoon by an assailant as he waited outside the airport while holding his grandson.
A taxi driver who tried to stop the attacker was also gunned down in an act that has shocked a country unused to political killings.
The unnamed attacker was arrested at the scene and is being interrogated by police but authorities have so far remained silent on his motivations.
In a statement released on late Sunday, the NLD described Ko Ni as a key aide to de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, saying he was “irreplacable”.
“We strongly denounce the assassination of Ko Ni like this as it is a terrorist act against the NLD’s policies,” the statement said.
The 63-year-old was a veteran member of the party which doggedly faced down decades of military rule to sweep the 2015 elections that brought Suu Kyi to power.
As a prominent Muslim party member he was also a rare voice advocating religious tolerance and pluralism – and a critic of the powerful military’s ongoing political influence.
Ko Ni’s daughter Yin Nwe Khaing said she brought her young son to greet his grandfather at the airport, adding her father had made enemies because he was a prominent Muslim voice in the majority Buddhist country.
“As we are from a different religion there were many people who didn’t like and hated it. I think that also could be a reason (for his murder),” she told DVB TV outside the hospital where her father’s body had been taken. – AFP