Myanmar Junta Searches Homes After Arakan Army Seizures

By The Irrawaddy 22 June 2022

Myanmar junta troops have been searching houses and detaining residents in Kyauktaw Township, Rakhine State, after the Arakan Army (AA) seized three police officers on Monday, according to residents.

The Rakhine-based armed group detained the three officers, including a lieutenant and sergeant, from Myothit ward on Monday.

On Tuesday, junta troops arrested prominent activist Ko Zaw Win at his house in Pyi Taw Thar ward, a resident told The Irrawaddy.

“Many junta soldiers are searching houses. They detained Ko Zaw Win and we still don’t know how many more they have detained. No one dares to go out,” he said on Tuesday.

The Kyauktaw central market is closed and children did not attend school, said residents.

The AA detained two junta soldiers from a checkpoint near Kissapanadi bridge in Kyauktaw on June 11. On June 16 the AA tried to seize an officer and a private from the Ponnagyun-based Light Infantry Battalion 550. The officer escaped.

Following the incident, junta soldiers fired warning shots in residential areas and detained seven Ponnagyun residents. Their whereabouts are still unknown.

On June 17, AA troops tried to detain a police sergeant and constable from Tein Nyo village in Mrauk-U Township. The constable escaped.

The AA seized three junta soldiers and four policemen from June 11 to 20. AA spokesman Khaing Thukha told a press conference on June 14 that the seizures were in retaliation for regime’s detentions of AA administrative and judicial staff. He called for a prisoner swap.

The AA now controls most rural areas in the center and north of Rakhine. It has a judicial system and police force which operate in parallel with junta institutions.

An unofficial ceasefire since November 2020 is now on the brink of collapse after 18 months of relative calm with the junta taking action to counter expanding AA control.