Ko Ni, a legal advisor to the National League for Democracy (NLD), was shot and killed at Yangon International Airport earlier this afternoon. Ko Ni had arrived back from a trip to Indonesia, when he was shot in the head by the culprit at close range.
Photos circulating social media show the gunman standing behind Ko Ni, who was holding a kid — reportedly his grandchild — at the airport’s taxi stand seconds before the culprit pulled the trigger. A police source told Coconuts that the child is safe.
After shooting Ko Ni, the gunman tried to make a getaway in a nearby taxi. However, the taxi driver refused and was shot as well, the source told Coconuts. The driver succumbed to his injuries on the way to the hospital.
Police managed to catch the gunman when the incident with the taxi driver, and nearby witnesses, delayed his escape. The police source told Coconuts that officers fired warning shots but when the gunman refused to put down his weapon, he was shot once in the thigh and arrested.
Although there were initial rumors that the gunman was a foreigner, a police report has identified the shooter as a man named Kyi Lin from Mandalay. His motives remain unknown.
Ko Ni was regarded as a rare and important Muslim voice in Myanmar politics. An Al Jazeera article from 2015 pointed out that of the 6,074 candidates who competed in the November 8 polls, just 28, or 0.5 percent, were Muslims. Ko Ni was also a member of the the newly formed Myanmar Muslim Lawyers Association.
Ko Ni had travelled to Indonesia to participate in the Senior Leadership Program from January 22 to 29. Myanmar’s Information Minister U Pe Myint, the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, and the Home Affairs Minister for Arakan State had also participated in the tour, as did several Rohingya delegates.
Ko Ni’s last Facebook post before his death included a photo of him smiling in front of a building in Jakarta. The caption says: “Largest mosque in Southeast Asia designed by a Christian architect.”
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.