A Burma Army battalion and Arakan Army (AA) soldiers fought for around half an hour on Sunday afternoon near Rathedaung Township’s Kharu Chaung and Rakaung Chaung villages in Arakan State, but no casualties from either side were reported.
Wai Hun Aung of the Wunlark Development Foundation said that it took upward of an hour for the fighting to fully cease but that it was not as serious as previous incidents of conflict.
He said that the residents of the villages’ 200 households had already fled because of previous skirmishes between Burma Army and AA troops.
The Arakan State government and local civil society organizations recently collaborated to secure emergency response and humanitarian assistance for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Rathedaung Township’s villages, having built 17 temporary tents in Rakaung Chaung, 30 in Pae Thadu, 64 in Rayso Chaung and 20 in Kyauktan. Five primary schools were also built.
More than 2,000 villagers are sheltered in temporary camps in Kyauktaw, Ponnagyun, Rathedaung and Mrauk-U townships in Arakan State.
AA Col Nyo Twan Awng confirmed the fighting on Sunday, noting that this particular area is especially prone to conflict since both sides operate in the vicinity. Recently, fighting broke out unexpectedly when the two armed groups were discovered to be patrolling the same territory.
Last week, President Htin Kyaw’s chief peace negotiator Tin Myo Win convened a delegation to re-start negotiations with non-signatories of the 2015’s nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA), reportedly including the AA, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), who were previously excluded from NCA talks.
These three armed organizations are working with the government to set a date and venue for a meeting. Col Nyo Twan Aung said that a “greeting” of sorts between the two sides could happen within a week.
“A greeting is better than no meeting—it’s like something is better than nothing,” the AA colonel explained, adding that details of the encounter would be revealed in due course.
Col Nyo Twan Aung also criticized Burma’s previous government for failing to achieve peace in a country long plagued by civil war.
“Peace was at the top of the agenda, and it was a very popular goal in Burma. But despite several government attempts, peace was never realized, because their [government officials’] dishonesty prevented them from reaching this goal,” he said.