Renewed clashes between the Myanmar Army and Arakan Army troops near Kone Pyin village in Chin’s State Paletwa Township on Thursday left four Myanmar Army soldiers dead and five others injured, according to an Arakan Army (AA) spokesman.
Khine Thukha, the AA spokesman, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that a clash happened on the morning of May 3 when Myanmar Army troops from Light Infantry Battalion 541, based in Minbya Township, Rakhine State, entered into AA-controlled areas along the Kaladan River.
“The [Myanmar Army] soldiers’ dead bodies were still alongside the riverbank on Thursday night,” said Khine Thukha, adding that there were no fatalities on the AA side.
He said that if Myanmar Army troops continue to advance that the fighting would continue, as the AA would defend itself.
There have not been many clashes over the past four months along the upper section of the Kaladan River but heavy fighting occurred in November and December of last year.
According to Paletwa Township residents, local Kone Pyin villagers who fled in 2017 are still unable to return to their homes.
“As there is still fighting near Kone Pyin, it is impossible for the villagers to return,” said Mai Aung Ma Phyu, a Paletwa resident.
The AA is a member of the seven-member Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC), an alliance based in northeastern Myanmar. Some of the FPNCC members are holding separate peace talks with the government this year, despite its initial stated policy of only holding peace talks with the government as a bloc.
Khine Thukha said the AA still upholds the FPNCC’s policy negotiating for peace as an alliance.
Military leaders have repeatedly said that the Myanmar Army would not hold peace talks with the AA unless it disarmed because it was established only after Myanmar had elected a quasi-civilian government, under former President U Thein Sein in 2011.
The AA, which has taken part in fighting by allying with Kachin, Ta’ang and Kokang troops in Kachin Independence Army-controlled areas in northern and northeastern Myanmar since 2011, has said its troops have been mobilized since 2009.