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Myanmar politicians dodge "assassination" in Malaysia

Two Myanmar politicians from a western state rocked by deadly communal violence narrowly escaped a suspected assassination bid during a visit to Malaysia this week, a report said Friday.

KUALA LUMPUR: Two Myanmar politicians from a western state rocked by deadly communal violence narrowly escaped a suspected assassination bid during a visit to Malaysia this week, a report said Friday.

Malaysia's state-run Bernama news agency quoted police as saying the pair, Aye Maung and Aye Thar Aung, were fired upon by a shooter on a motorcycle in a busy shopping area of the capital Kuala Lumpur late Wednesday night.

Several shots were fired at a car carrying them and several companions, but no one was injured, said the report.

The two politicians are from the Arakan National Party, which represents the Rakhine community, the largest ethnic group in Myanmar's western Rakhine state.

The state has been torn by several episodes of violence since 2012 between ethnic Rakhine and Rohinyga that left scores dead and displaced 140,000 people -- many from the stateless Rohingya minority. The situation remains tense.

Thousands of Rohingya have fled to Malaysia and other countries over the years to escape what they call persecution by Myanmar's government.

The shooter and an accomplice driving the bike escaped, said the report, adding the incident was "suspected to have been an assassination attempt".

Police have launched an investigation, it said.

Exiled Rohingya in Malaysia have staged a number of angry protests in recent years alleging aggression in their homeland, particularly since the 2012 violence.

Aye Maung, a member of parliament, is former chairman of an earlier Rakhine party that has been accused by Human Rights Watch of encouraging violence against Rohingya.

He is also a member of a commission set up by Myanmar's government to investigate the Rakhine sectarian violence. Its findings have been criticised by Rohingya activists as biased.

Malaysian police confirmed to AFP that the visitors were shot at, but declined to give details.

Zaw Htay, director of Myanmar President Thein Sein's office, said in a posting on his Facebook page that the politicians were among a group of six people who arrived in Malaysia on January 30 on a private visit.

They returned to Yangon on Friday.

Mohammad Sadek, a leader of Rohingya living in Malaysia, said he did not think Rohingya exiles were behind the attack.

"There was no attack from the Rohingya. We're still trying to live in peace and harmony," he said.

The United Nations has registered more than 32,000 Rohingya as refugees in Malaysia, but many more are believed to be in the country.

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