Myanmar Junta Troops Fire on Rakhine Displacement Camps

By The Irrawaddy 1 June 2022

Amid growing tensions between Myanmar’s regime and the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State, junta troops in Kyauktaw Township fired mortar shells at two displacement camps on Monday evening, according to witnesses.

Division 55, which is stationed at Maha Muni Pagoda, fired mortars and bullets at Maha Muni and Nyaung Chaung camps.

“We heard a mortar first, followed by continuous gunfire. They fired around 500 shots as if there was a battle. Some people fled into the village and others hid in the camp. They dared not sleep that night,” a witness told The Irrawaddy.

Maha Muni camp is near Maha Muni Pagoda by the Yangon-Sittwe road, sheltering more than 1,000 people. Some 200 homes were razed in a fire on May 9.

Junta troops also fired on Nyaung Chaung camp near the pagoda where more than 3,000 people are sheltering, said a camp resident.

“Our camp is less than a mile to the north of the pagoda. Bullets flew over the camp. We don’t know why they fired. Only they will know,” he said.

No injuries were reported.

Junta troops recently reportedly checked if new arrivals were at the camps.

Ko Zaw Win from a humanitarian group in Kyauktaw said: “They fired hundreds of shots while there was no fighting. So it is reasonable to assume that they don’t want the camps near them and want to frighten people away.”

Since the 2020 ceasefire, the United League of Arakan, the political wing of the AA, has expanded its parallel administration, including judiciary, revenue and public security offices.

Regime troops have been searching villages for AA affiliates and telling villagers to stay clear of the armed group. The regime has also tightened security checks, including on the Yangon-Sittwe road, the state’s major supply route. It has restricted supplies of food and commodities to parts of Rakhine and Paletwa Township in Chin State, which borders Rakhine State.

Paletwa saw two clashes between junta troops and the AA in May. The AA has warned about the possibility of fresh fighting in Rakhine, urging residents to stay clear of junta outposts and supply routes.