Renewed clashes erupted between Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State in western Myanmar, the first since November 2020.
Ahead of the November general election last year, Myanmar’s military and the AA entered an unofficial ceasefire after two years of fierce fighting.
The two sides clashed on Tuesday after junta soldiers entered the AA’s territory in the north of Maungdaw, said Khaing Thukha, the spokesman of the Rakhine ethnic armed group which demands autonomy in Rakhine State.
“We had an engagement for a few minutes after they entered our territory. I still don’t know detailed casualties. The two sides are holding talks through intermediaries regarding the clash,” he said.
However, military tensions are running high on the ground as both sides are reinforcing their troops.
The clash happened in a forest near an abandoned village previously occupied by ethnic Mro. A resident from a nearby village said he heard gunshots but did not know any details.
“The clash happened about 8km from my village. I heard gunshots in the afternoon and four artillery strikes in the evening,” he told The Irrawaddy.
Khaing Thukha said more clashes are likely if junta troops further advance into AA territory.
Political analyst U Maung Maung Soe posted on Facebook that as all troops across Rakhine State are on alert, one clash could spread quickly spread across the state if negotiations fail.
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