The Myanmar Army released a statement on Tuesday afternoon alleging that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) could plan to stage attacks in Myanmar’s major cities.
The Government Information Committee issued its own statement on Tuesday night reiterating the military’s earlier warning, and calling for people to act with restraint.
“People should be strongly mindful that some could instigate racial and religious violence by using the alert as a pretext,” it read, adding that the administration “strongly urges the people to collaborate for the country’s stability.”
The army listed Naypyitaw, Yangon, Mandalay and Mawlamyine as potential targets, and speculated that the ARSA has foreign ties and alleged that members had received training abroad as migrants.
ARSA’s activity has been in northern Rakhine State, where the group staged attacks on police and military targets on Aug. 25, leading to the government and military designating the organization as “terrorists.”
The Myanmar Army has since intensified clearance operations in the region. Four hundred people have been reported dead, and an estimated 125,000 have fled to Bangladesh. Tens of thousands more remain displaced internally.
In Tuesday’s statement, the army asked the public to inform police or military officials of “suspicious activity,” like the presence of large amounts of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.
During a briefing last week for diplomats and UN agencies on Rakhine State at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center in Yangon, Police Brig-Gen Win Tun alleged that militants had used this type of fertilizer to make landmines.