NAYPYITAW—Myanmar military officials, soldiers and other personnel were killed in clashes with the Arakan Army (AA) in norther Rakhine State’s Rathedaung and Buthidaung townships on Sunday and Monday.
The AA ambushed border guard police providing security on the Inn Din-Taungpyo road in Rathedaung Township on Sunday, killing one police officer and injuring others, according to Myanmar military spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun.
“The border guard police who came to change shifts were ambushed by the AA,” he told The Irrawaddy. “They were attacked twice—the first time at 10 or 11 a.m. and the second time at 2:30 p.m.”
He said that Myanmar military troops and government officials also came under attack to the northeast of Inn Din Village on Monday.
“Some officials and Myanmar military soldiers died and were injured,” said Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun. “Police officers and an immigration officer also died. Some from both the military and the police went missing. The Myanmar military is now undertaking security operations.”
“As the AA troops are stationed in villages between Buthidaung and Rathedaung, we have announced that we will carry out a counter-insurgency operation, and so we did,” the military spokesman said. “Their troops are stationed on the eastern bank of the Mayu River and the clashes took place on the western bank.”
“The western area of Inn Din Village is where ARSA [the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army] was active before,” he added.
At least 10 military personnel and police, including immigration officer U Kyaw Zaw Khaing, were killed in the attacks, according to Rathedaung resident U Maung Saw Win.
The immigration officer was killed while travelling with security troops to conduct a census in the area.
“The fighting lasted for hours,” U Maung Saw Win said. “We could hear all the shooting on the first day, but the fighting was far from Rathedaung yesterday. As it took place near Maungdaw and Kyaukpanu, we could only hear the shelling. Both sides had large numbers of troops. There were around 100 police and 300 soldiers. And there were be around 600, including the AA troops.”
Many local residents had already fled from their villages in the area, he added.
A police source confirmed to The Irrawaddy that seven people died in the attacks. A police major died in the ambush on Sunday and an immigration officer, a police major, a military captain and officers of other ranks died on Monday, he said.
“The police major sustained an exit wound in his face, so we can conclude that he was shot by a sniper. They were attacked as they travelled to Rathedaung along the Inn Din-Taungpyo road,” said the police officer, who asked for anonymity.
The Irrawaddy was unable to obtain a comment from the AA because the Myanmar government and military have declared it to be a terrorist organization, criminalizing all contact with the group. However, the AA said on its website that they were attacked by the Myanmar military and police in Rathedaung, rather than the ethnic armed group having attacked them.
The rebel group claimed that they killed over 20 soldiers and police and abducted others in the fighting on Sunday and Monday. They also claimed to have seized weapons and ammunition, though the group’s website does not show photos of the arms.
Fierce clashes are still going in Rathedaung, Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships in northern Rakhine, as Myanmar prepares to hold its third general election since 2010 in November.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.
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