More Clashes Between AA, Myanmar Military in N. Rakhine, S. Chin

By Min Aung Khine 1 July 2019

SITTWE—Fierce clashes erupted between the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw) and the Arakan Army (AA) in Rathedaung, Kyauktaw and Minbya townships of N. Rakhine on Sunday.

According to the AA, the two sides clashed in two places in Rathedaung Township at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Serious clashes also took place in the east of Min Thar Taung Village in Kyauktaw, and in mountains between Thazi and Shwe Tamar villages in Minbya, said AA information officer Khaing Thu Kha.

“Clashes took place in four places—two in Rathedaung and one each in Kyauktaw and Minbya—yesterday. The clashes were quite fierce. In Minbya, clashes took place from the morning to the late evening,” Khaing Thu Kha told The Irrawaddy.

Rakhine State lawmaker U Hla Thein Aung of Minbya Township told The Irrawaddy that locals in and around Thazi and Shwe Kyin villages have fled due to the clashes.

“Clashes continued today [July 1]. We could hear artillery fire. Locals from nearby villages have fled to Min Pu Village. Clashes took place the whole day yesterday,” U Hla Thein Aung said.

Residents of conflict areas in Rathedaung Township also fled to safer places, local villagers said.

The two sides also clashed fiercely on Sunday in Chin State’s Paletwa Township, said Khaing Thu Kha.

He claimed that in the clashes in those four townships on Sunday, the Tatmadaw suffered over 50 fatalities with many more injured, while the AA lost two fighters.

Colonel Win Zaw Oo, a spokesperson for the Tatmadaw’s Western Command, confirmed clashes in three townships in Rakhine, but denied that any Tatmadaw soldiers were killed.

“Yes, it is true that clashes took place. Some were injured. No dead bodies or weapons were seized from us. Does the AA have a sixth sense? I don’t understand on which data the AA’s statement is based,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The Myanmar Army on June 30 extended its unilateral ceasefire for two months, but again excluded Rakhine State. This is the second time the military has extended its ceasefire since declaring a four-month unilateral ceasefire in December.

“This shows that [the Myanmar Army] will fight fiercely on the Rakhine front,” Khaing Thu Kha told The Irrawaddy.

The military and the AA has clashed nearly 600 times since December in Rakhine, according to the AA.

The two sides clashed fiercely throughout June, and as the Tatmadaw is sending reinforcements and weapons to the area both by road and by sea, the clashes are expected to intensify. The fighting has so far forced over 50,000 people from their homes in Rakhine State.

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