Junta Troops Clash With Arakan Army in Western Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 8 February 2022

Military tensions are running high in Maungdaw in Rakhine State in western Myanmar after fresh clashes between the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar military, raising fears that the informal ceasefire between the two sides is breaking down.

Fighting broke out last Friday when junta troops carried out a sneak attack on an AA outpost near the Letpan Mountains northeast of Mee Taik Village, killing an AA sentry, said AA spokesman Khaing Thukha.

A number of junta soldiers were killed in the 40 minute clash, according to sources. The Irrawaddy could not independently confirm junta casualties.

The two sides clashed again on Sunday for three hours, with both sides reportedly suffering casualties. “Clashes happened [on Sunday] after the military attacked us again in the Letpan Mountains. I still don’t know details about casualties,” said Khaing Thukha.

Rakhine politician U Pe Than told The Irrawaddy: “It can be said that the informal ceasefire has collapsed. We will wait and see if the leaders of the two sides will hold talks [to stop the fighting] or just let it happen. Since the ceasefire [in 2020] both sides have strengthened their forces and prepared for a war so, if this situation continues, clashes may spread to other places.”

Khaing Thukha said it depends on Myanmar’s military whether clashes intensify in Rakhine State. The AA will respond as necessary, he added.

Amid the heightened tensions in Rakhine, the military regime last week imposed a 9pm-5am curfew in Kyauktaw Township which is located by the Kaladan River.

Junta troops came close to AA outposts in Kyauktaw on January 17, forcing locals from a number of villages to flee their homes out of fear of a possible battle.

On January 27, the military regime briefly detained 30 Rakhine youths heading to the AA headquarters to undergo training.

The AA and the Myanmar military have observed an informal ceasefire since the November 2020 general election, but tensions have risen on the ground and renewed fighting broke out in Maungdaw in November last year.

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