KYAUKPHYU, Rakhine State — Myanmar security forces killed two suspected militants and apprehended one in Tin May village in northern Buthidaung Township on Sunday morning, according to the State Counselor’s Office Information Committee.
A statement by the information committee said that as security forces were patrolling the village, militants opened fire from a house, releasing some 20 gunshots. When security forces returned fire, militants set off an improvised explosive device (IED) in the dwelling and three persons attempted to flee. Two were killed on the spot and one was arrested, according to the statement.
Another person, 70-year-old Sauli Ahmed, was arrested for attempting to “disturb” the security forces’ operations during the incident, the statement added.
In a subsequent search of the home, Myanmar Army and border police officials discovered a BA 94 assault rifle and two magazines. The State Counselor’s Office statement claimed the firearm was the same model as those looted from a border guard post in Maungdaw Township during the October 9 attacks last year that left nine policemen dead.
A handmade gun, a remote control mine, two car pistons and eight detonators, as well as Bangladeshi money, two walkie-talkies, six swords, four daggers and a machete were also found, the statement said.
The army and border police are currently carrying out joint clearance operations in northern Rakhine State amid an uptick in unrest in the region over recent months.
A Buthidaung resident told The Irrawaddy that residents had been leaving Tin May village since the bodies of five persons allegedly killed in an IED accident were recovered in the area in early May. Locals feared for their safety as government troops searched for the suspects involved, the resident said.
On June 20, Myanmar military and border police raided a suspected militant training camp in a forest of the Mayu mountain range. The raid left three dead and resulted in the seizure of 20 dummy guns, two homemade guns and bags of corn seed and rice.
Soon after, in late June, two Buddhist men from Tarein village were killed while they were hunting for tortoises, according to a statement on the incident by the State Counselor’s Office Information Committee.
According to eyewitness accounts, the perpetrators were identified as Muslim, contributing to an atmosphere of growing mistrust between the area’s Buddhist and Muslim communities.
Almost 100 Tarein villagers fled the area after the attack, citing safety concerns.
In another incident, on July 4, seven Muslim men from the Dapaing camp for internally displaced persons in the Rakhine State capital Sittwe were attacked by a mob while they were part of a police escort. One man was killed.
Amid the rise in recent violence in the State, UN Special Rapporteur on The Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee is due to arrive in the country on Monday and is scheduled to visit conflict-torn areas in the region this week.
It is unclear whether authorities will allow her to visit areas in which he most recent clashes have occurred.
The Myanmar government has repeatedly denied Myanmar visas to a UN fact-finding mission on conflicts in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states. Last week, the President’s Office issued a statement regarding Yanghee Lee’s sixth visit to Rakhine State, stating that it must not be linked to the UN’s fact-finding mission.
The special rapporteur said she would focus on the development of human rights in the region, as on previous tours. The President’s Office statement said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Home Affairs and regional government were discussing details of her visit.
Last week, a delegation led by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi visited Rakhine State and met with both communities in Maungdaw.
This story has been slightly updated from an earlier version.