Spat Breaks Out Between Arakanese Armed Groups

By Moe Myint 24 June 2016

RANGOON — Arakan Army spokesman Lt-Col Kyaw Han claims his forces have detained an Arakan Liberation Army (ALA) Column 9 soldier who stole their military armor, weapons and other supplies in Chin State near the borders with India and Bangladesh on Tuesday.

The Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), the political wing of the ALA, released a statement on Thursday saying that the Arakan Army had ambushed their forces and one soldier had been arrested while another is missing in action.

The ALA is one of the signatories of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the previous government, but the Arakan Army was excluded from the peace process.

The ALA stated that armed clashes between the two armed groups, both of which are ethnic Arakanese forces, were a shameful matter within the Arakan community; the ALP believes they will be able to solve the problem without further casualties.

ALP Joint Secretary Khaing Aung Soe Than said the incident occurred near Phone Nyat Wa and Mike Wa villages in Paletwa Township, where ethnic Chin and Khamee live.

The Arakan Army’s Kyaw Han rejected the ALA assertions and argued that ALA troops had been stealing from local residents. Moreover, he claimed ALA soldiers had disturbed villagers who had worked for the Arakan Army carrying supplies, adding that several villagers and Arakan Army soldiers had collaborated to hunt down the ALA soldiers.

Of the ALA, Kyaw Han said, “We are not foes, but this incident could harm reconciliation efforts.”

Rumors are spreading on social media that two ALA soldiers were killed in Wednesday’s fighting.

But Kyaw Han said there was no fighting between the Arakan Army and ALA, and there were no injuries on either side. Now the Arakan Army is calling on ALA leaders to return the reportedly stolen goods, although details on such items were not forthcoming.

“We didn’t kill anyone. Our comrades didn’t pull the trigger,” Kyaw Han said. “Trying to disrupt our logistics is like cooperating with the enemy [the Burma Army].”

The ALP’s Khaing Aung Soe Than defended his soldiers, arguing that they had not stolen anything.

“[This is] an untrue accusation. How could we rob the Arakan Army?” he said. “That’s funny. Impossible.”