Arakan Army Official Acknowledges Recent Weapons Seizures

By Moe Myint 29 February 2016

RANGOON — A spokesperson for the Arakan Army on Monday acknowledged that weapons recently seized by authorities in Rangoon and in Arakan State belonged to the armed group, but denied allegations of involvement in narcotics.

On Monday, state-owned newspaper The Global New Light of Myanmar ran a front page story detailing recent weapons seizures that followed the arrest of two men, Aung Myat Kyaw and Wai Tha Tun, the former of whom was described as a lieutenant colonel in the Arakan Army.

The article detailed guns, explosives, ammunition and other military equipment that were confiscated from two separate houses connected to the two men in Rangoon Division’s North Dagon and Hlaing Tharyar townships.

Six RPG launchers, detonators and explosive materials were also confiscated from a building allegedly belonging to the Arakan Army in Ramree Township, Arakan State, according to the article.

Arakan Army spokesperson Khine Thu Kha on Monday acknowledged that both men, now detained, were Arakan Army operatives. He described the weapons seizures as “minor” and claimed that the Arakan Army had the full support of all Arakanese.

However, Khine Thu Kha described allegations related to the confiscation of narcotics as false and made intentionally to “damage the dignity” of the Arakan Army and sow mistrust between the armed group and Arakanese citizens.

Police allegedly confiscated 330,800 stimulant tablets from a residence belonging to Wai Tha Tun in Rangoon Division’s North Okkalapa, Monday’s article stated.

Since conflict between the Burma Army and the Arakan armed group broke out in Kyauktaw Township in the western state in late December, state media has carried several critical reports of the ethnic armed force which the government refused to recognize during negotiations toward the so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement.

In January, the New Light reported the Burma Army’s intention to “remove” the ethnic armed group from Arakan State and accused it of attempting to ally with insurgent groups in unspecified “other countries.”

In the most recent skirmish, the Arakan Army clashed with government troops on Saturday in Buthidaung Township, according to a statement released by the ethnic armed group.