Fighting Flares Between Arakan Army and Govt Troops

By Moe Myint 28 December 2015

RANGOON — Fighting broke out on Sunday between the Arakan Army (AA) and government troops in Kyauktaw Township of northern Arakan State, according to the ethnic armed group, which released information on the skirmish on Monday.

The fighting took place near the Sittwe-Rangoon highway in Kyauktaw Township, around 6 km from the Mahamuni Pagoda, and continued on Monday morning when government troops called in reinforcements.

The Arakan Army claimed several Burma Army troops were wounded but said it was still assessing casualties.

Hla May, founder of the Kyauktaw Women’s Network, confirmed that fighting had broken out in a sparsely populated area near Ram Chaung tributary.

“Residents are worried about the conflict because in previous fighting, some villagers were detained and interrogated on accusations of being connected with an unlawful association,” Hla May said.

Burma Army troops clashed several times with Arakan Army forces in a number of areas in the western state beginning in late March. Following the fighting, at least 20 people were detained under Burma’s Unlawful Association Law for their alleged links to the armed faction.

According to Kyauktaw Township authorities, at least 18 Arakan Army soldiers were arrested following the fighting earlier this year.

The Arakan Army is also based in Laiza, Kachin State, where the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is headquartered, and has been active in conflict areas where the KIA, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) have clashed with government troops.

The government declined to allow the TNLA, AA and MNDAA to sign the so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement concluded in mid-October, while the KIA, alongside several other major ethnic armed groups, withheld its signature.