Myanmar Military Denies Losing Troops in Clash with AA in Northern Rakhine

By Htet Naing Zaw 29 August 2019

NAYPYITAW—The Myanmar military denied the Arakan Army’s claim to have killed more than 30 government troops during a clash in northern Rakhine State on Wednesday.

Military spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun confirmed to The Irrawaddy on Thursday that fighting broke out between the two armies when the AA launched an attack on a government army outpost on Lin Mway Taung Hill, a 30-minute drive north of downtown Mrauk-U.

He said the clash began in the early morning hours and ended at around 2 p.m. when the AA troops retreated. The brigadier general denied rumors on social media that the rebels had taken over the outpost.

He said, “The military outpost had fewer soldiers than usual, and the AA attacked them with some 150 troops at around 4 a.m. on Aug. 28.”

“There were no fatalities on our side, while the AA lost six [troops]. We also seized some weapons and ammunition,” he added.

In its statement, the AA said the fighting lasted for just three hours, and that it sustained only light casualties while the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) lost 30 soldiers.

AA spokesman Khaing Thuka told The Irrawaddy that the heavy clashes at Lin Mway Taung Hill were sparked by “the military using the hill as their artillery base.” He reiterated the claim that 30 government army soldiers died, while the AA lost two soldiers with four injured.

The AA stepped up its fight for autonomy in northern Rakhine State against the Myanmar military late last year, leading to casualties on both sides. The Myanmar military has denounced the AA as terrorists. It does not recognize the group as being based in Rakhine, officially viewing its base as being in Laiza, Kachin state, where it was formed. The AA claims to have the full support of the Rakhine people, and that it is therefore justified in its push to establish a foothold in the area.

Despite the ongoing military tensions, the Myanmar government’s Peace Commission and the Northern Alliance, of which the AA is a member, agreed to meet for peace talks in Keng Tung, eastern Shan State, this coming Saturday.