Myanmar’s regime has been arresting civilians and searching villages in Maungdaw on the Bangladesh border in Rakhine State, following an Arakan Army (AA) attack this week, according to residents.
The regime suffered heavy casualties and 14 border police were captured in the fighting on Monday in Maungdaw.
The regime has since detained four residents, including a village administrator. “Villagers are panicking since the administrator was detained. Some have fled for fear that they might be wrongly arrested. Roads are virtually deserted in northern Maungdaw,” a resident told The Irrawaddy.
On Thursday, residents fled as junta troops searched houses in Thinbaw Hla village. Villagers in northern Maungdaw dare not go to their farms and into forests where they look for produce to make a living, said Maungdaw residents.
U Maung Ohn, a former Rakhine State parliament lawmaker from Maungdaw, said: “Villagers now stay in groups where they think are safe.”
On Wednesday in a pre-dawn raid, troops arrested three Kyein Chaung villagers, including the administrator, about 10km from where Monday’s clash took place, said their relatives.
On the same day, the Thinbaw Hla administrator U Maung Sein Tun and Tharyargon village head U Ba Thein were summoned to meet junta forces.
U Maung Sein Tun returned home in the evening but relatives have lost contact with U Ba Thein.
In a statement on Thursday, the AA accused the regime of imprisoning residents on trumped-up charges. Regime checkpoints on roads and at jetties check people’s phones to justify arrests, the AA said.
Troops search houses and seize devices to look for anything related to the AA, for anti-regime social media posts and to inspect photos and videos, said the AA statement.
The AA told residents to avoid unnecessary travel and regularly clear their phones.