SITTWE – The Arakan Army on Sunday released 12 of 31 people it pulled off a bus on a highway in Mrauk-U Township, Rakhine State on Oct. 11.
AA troops stopped the bus at mile 127 of the Mandalay-Sittwe Highway in Mrauk-U and arrested 31 passengers, including 19 Rakhine State firefighters.
AA spokesman Khaing Thuka said the 12 civilians released on Sunday were the non-firefighters. They comprised nine masons and three drivers.
“We released them as we found they are ordinary civilian Burmans, so they were sent safely back to Mrauk-U,” he said.
He said the AA would release the firefighters soon, depending on security conditions. Prior to their detention, they had been undergoing training in Pyin Oo Lwin in Mandalay Region.
The Irrawaddy tried unsuccessfully to contact the Rakhine State Fire Department for comment.
In a separate incident on Oct. 26, the AA detained a group of 45 people—14 soldiers, 29 police officers and two Prison Department employees—in Yay Myat Village in Rakhine State’s Rathedaung Township. The detainees were passengers on a vessel belonging to the Shwe Nadi boat service that was stopped by the AA as it was traveling from Sittwe to Buthidaung.
Following the detention of the group, the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) used aircraft to attack the AA unit responsible. The ethnic armed group released a statement on Sunday saying that many of the detainees and a number of their troops were missing or dead as a result of the military’s air raid.
However, the Commander-in-Chief’s Office said on Monday that 15 of the detainees had been found alive.
In an English-language statement posted to its website, the Office of the Commander-in-Chief said: “In striving for rapidly rescuing the abductees from the kidnappers through concerted efforts of helicopters and ground military columns, the Tatmadaw has rescued 15 persons among the abductees kidnapped by AA insurgents till today [Oct. 28].”
It added, “Efforts are being made for performing rapid rescue for the remaining abductees. With regard to the leak of information to insurgents, Shwe Nadi speed boat line is under necessary investigation.”