Dozens of the Myanmar military regime’s border guard police were killed in fighting with the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township on Monday, the Rakhine ethnic armed group said.
The two sides engaged in fierce clashes for the whole day on Monday after the AA launched an attack on a combined force of Myanmar military troops and border guard police between Saung Pyinnyar and Sankarpinyin villages in northern Maungdaw around 9 a.m.
After the regime sent in reinforcements, another clash broke out between Donekalar and Wetkyein villages around 10.30 a.m. The Myanmar military continuously fired artillery from six outposts until 6 p.m., the AA said.
The AA said dozens of border guard police were killed and 14 others including a police major were captured when it ambushed the junta reinforcements. The ethnic armed group released a video file of the attack that shows several border guard police being killed or wounded on a military truck and several others being captured.
The Irrawaddy was unable to contact AA spokesman U Khaing Thukha for comment about the fighting, but he told Rakhine-based media that the attack was in retaliation for a junta air raid on an AA outpost in Karen State, in an area controlled by the Karen National Union. Six AA fighters were killed when Myanmar junta aircraft bombed the AA outpost near the Thai border on July 4.
The road linking Maungdaw and Taungpyo was deserted following Monday’s clash, said local residents.
The AA has warned local people in Rakhine that clashes could break out at any time in Rakhine State as the regime has stepped up its military preparations there.
The Myanmar military conducted a five-day naval exercise earlier this month in the seas off Rakhine State with the participation of naval ships, its two submarines and helicopters. Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing observed the exercise, which Rakhine politicians said was targeted at the AA.
Tensions have been escalating in Rakhine for months and an informal ceasefire reached between the Myanmar military and the AA ahead of the November 2020 general election after two years of heavy fighting is on the brink of collapse.
The AA took advantage of the lull in fighting while the Myanmar military was distracted by fallout from its coup last year and now controls most rural areas in the center and north of Rakhine. It has set up a parallel judicial system and police force, which operate independent of junta institutions.
Last month, the AA abducted more than a dozen junta personnel in Kyauktaw, Ponnagyun, Mrauk-U and Sittwe townships. The regime also detained dozens of residents in those towns and charged some of them.