NAYPYITAW—The Tatmadaw (or Myanmar military) suffered two casualties in a navy tugboat attack by the Arakan Army (AA) in the creek of Set Yoe Kya, near Sittwe, in Rakhine State.
The attack is the first on a navy vessel in the state, Tatmadaw spokesperson Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy, adding that two died and one was injured in the attack.
“They fired from the shore. Those rockets were the same used in attacks in Laukkai [the capital of Kokang, a self-administered zone in Shan State]. The rear of the tugboat was slightly damaged,” said Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun.
The attack occurred at 3:30 a.m. on June 22, when the AA fired three rockets at the tugboat, he said. An exchange of fire followed.
In the course of security operations, Tatmadaw troops found one Type-63 mm rocket, wiring, and two batteries used to fire the rockets, according to a statement from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief.
Locals said an artillery shell fell in the village of Kyay Taw Ywa Ma, opposite the creek from Sittwe.
“[It] fell as we were sleeping. We don’t know which side shot it,” said U Zaw Maung Thein of Kyay Taw Ywa Ma village.
Authorities are going through the neighborhood door to door looking for suspects.
“We are launching a thorough search,” Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun said. “There were no clashes there previously. It is fair to say that it [the attack location] is an urban part of Sittwe,” he added.
Tatmadaw officials deny that the navy is providing the army with artillery assistance in its fight with the AA.
“We have vessels providing for the maritime security of Sittwe, but they have never provided supporting fire—just security,” Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun.
Over 40,000 locals have been displaced in the northern Rakhine State townships of Rathedaung, Buthidaung, Kyauktaw, Ponnagyun and Mrauk-U since clashes broke out in November.
June has seen the fewest clashes between the two sides since December, but only because the Tatmadaw has suspended its operations in some areas, AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha said.
Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun also noted clashes declined in June, but attributed the decline to the Tatmadaw having regained control of some areas in the region.
According to Khaing Thukha, the Tatmadaw suffered over 1,200 casualties between December and mid-June—88 in January, 92 in February, 220 in March, 254 in April, and 490 in May, or 1,144 in five months. The Tatmadaw disputes these figures.
Between Dec. 21 and June 8 there were 237 clashes, each lasting more than 30 minutes, with 65 in May—the highest month to date, according to numbers from the AA.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.
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