Nine Police Dead in Arakan State Border Attacks

By The Irrawaddy 10 October 2016

RANGOON — Nine police officers were killed and five injured during a series of attacks on border guard headquarters and outposts near the Bangladeshi border in northern Arakan State on early Sunday, according to police statements.

The assaults were carried out by nearly 200 attackers from 1:30am to 4:30am at Kyikanpyin headquarters and Kotankauk and Ngakhuya outposts in Maungdaw and Rathedaung Townships, police said.

“Eight attackers were killed and two were captured alive, Police Force Chief Maj-Gen Zaw Win said during a press conference on the attacks on Sunday in Naypyidaw.

According to information released at the press conference, 62 assorted arms and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition were taken by attackers in the three separate attacks.

The police chief didn’t confirm public speculation that the attacks were masterminded by the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), a small militant group formerly active along the Bangladeshi border in the 1980s and 1990s that has been quiet for nearly two decades.

Since 2012, communal strife between local Buddhist Arakanese and Muslim Rohingya has killed scores and displaced up to 140,000 people in Arakan State, also known as Rakhine State.

U Kyaw Tin, the deputy minister of foreign affairs, said an investigation was underway to see if the assailants had links in Bangladesh and, if necessary Bangladesh’s ambassador for Burma would be summoned.

He added that “the State Counselor [Daw Aung San Suu Kyi] firmly told us to respond to this case within the law.”

In August, the State Counselor announced the formation of an advisory commission led by former UN Gen-Sec Kofi Annan to advise on “lasting solutions to complex and delicate issues” in Arakan State.

On Sunday afternoon, authorities extended the existing curfew in Maungdaw and Ya Thae Taung Townships from 11pm – 4am to 7pm – 6am. The assembly of more than five people is prohibited.

Arakan State Education Department ordered the closure of Maungdaw District schools on Monday morning. About 400 government schools are affected, according to Education Department officer U Aung Kyat Htun.