Burma

20 Civilians Killed in Clashes Between Army, AA Since January, Gov’t Says

By Nan Lwin 31 May 2019

YANGON—Twenty civilians have been killed in fighting between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State in the past five months, a spokesperson for the President’s Office said.

At a Friday press conference in Naypyitaw, U Zaw Htay, President’s Office spokesperson and State Counselor’s Office director general, said there have been 206 clashes between the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, and the AA in that period.

From Jan. 1 to May 27 about 100 AA soldiers and 31 police have been killed and 48 AA soldiers have been captured, he said.

Several Myanmar military officers have reportedly been killed in clashes as well.

He did not, however, reveal casualty figures for government military forces.

He said 32 police and 43 civilians had been wounded, and six police officers have gone missing since clashes began.

Fighting between the Myanmar military and the AA, which seeks greater autonomy in Rakhine State, intensified after Jan. 4 attacks on police outposts in northern Rakhine by the AA. The escalation has meant an increase in casualties on both sides, among fighters and civilians alike.

In early May, the Myanmar military detained 275 villagers from Rathedaung Township, in northern Rakhine State, for three days on suspicion of having ties with the AA. While detained, six of them were shot and killed and eight others were injured. The military claims to have opened fire only when detainees tried to snatch guns from the soldiers.

In April, three detainees in Mrauk-U died during military interrogations. They were among 27 people from Mrauk-U’s Let Kar Village accused of AA membership or affiliation and held captive by the military.

The spokesperson said the total number of people displaced by the fighting—across seven townships in northern Rakhine State and one township in Chin State—had reached 33,031. Mrauk-U saw more internally displaced persons (IDPs) than any other township, with 9,980 IDPs, followed by Buthidaung, with 8,136.

However, the Rakhine Ethnic Congress, a civil society group, disputes these numbers, claiming in a May 27 statement that there are now nearly 42,000 IDPs in the townships of Sittwe, Pauktaw, Kyauktaw, Rathaetaung, Ponnagyun, Buthidaung, Minbya and Maungdaw.

The spokesperson said there are a total of 108 IDP camps.

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