YANGON – The Arakan Army (AA) announced Monday evening it occupied a temporary tactical command base and apprehended 11 prisoners of war during a clash with Myanmar Army troops near northern Rakhine State’s Buthidaung Township on March 9.
AA spokesman U Khine Thukha told The Irrawaddy the detained troops were from Light Infantry Battalion No. 563 based in southern Rakhine State’s Gwa Township under the supervision of Light Infantry Division (LID) No. 5, which is currently deployed in the upper Paletwa region.
“We are feeding them regularly and treating them well,” U Khine Thukha said.
U Khine Thukha said the AA had detained the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw) soldiers, and that senior AA leaders were still deciding what to do with the captives, including whether to release them to the International Red Cross (ICRC) or take another option.
He declined to comment on whether the detainees include high-ranking officers. It was unclear whether the prisoners of war were all military personnel or if they included civilians.
The AA announced the fighting had taken place near Pyan So village, which sits on the boundary of Rakhine State’s Buthidaung Township and Paletwa. It said the armed group had seized one Tatmadaw soldier’s body as well as 16 backhoe excavators, one Toyota car, a dump truck, and 60-mm and 80-mm mortars.
The military launched hellfire missiles at AA fighters using two helicopters for about 25 minutes during the fighting, the AA said.
Citing a statement from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief, state-owned newspapers reported that on March 9 about 200 AA troops attacked an under-construction border fence in Buthidaung Township from Bangladeshi territory.
It says the construction site was situated between BP-67 and BP-68, but did not specifically say which battalion or border police regiment was deployed in the area. According to the state newspapers, workers at the construction site were removed safely.
It did not state the number of workers and merely described authorities’ fencing activities in the area. The government of Myanmar began fencing along the Bangladesh and Myanmar border in 2010 and a total of 120 miles has been completed so far.
Based on a map released by the government and the AA, The Irrawaddy has learned that fighting took place near Pyan So village between northern Buthidaung and Paletwa region. Some credible sources said two villagers who were staying in the joint security outpost were also arrested along with another nine soldiers.
Last Friday, the AA announced that it had killed more than a dozen soldiers, including a military captain, from southern Rakhine State’s Kyaukphyu-based Light Infantry Battalion No. 542 in Paletwa. Last weekend, the AA attacked a police station in Ponnagyun Township, killing 9 policemen.