YANGON — Myanmar military and border police raided a suspected militant camp in the forests of Mayu mountain range of Rakhine State’s southern Maungdaw Township on Tuesday, according to police, leaving three dead over two days.
Police Maj Zaw Zaw Nay Hein of the three-mile border police checkpoint said the camp was empty but authorities seized 20 dummy guns, two homemade guns and bags of corn seed and rice.
Three police sources, who spoke to The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity, reported that one suspected militant was killed on Tuesday when he allegedly attacked security forces. They said they had not received updated information from the raid due to the camp’s remote location—a three-hour trek from the nearest village of Kai Gyee.
In a Wednesday press conference, President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay said that two more suspected militants had been killed by security forces, bringing the number of casualties over two days to three.
Officers from Kyi Kan Pyin border police headquarters rejected local media reports of clashes between security forces and militants near Kin Chaung Phyar in southern Maungdaw Township on Wednesday morning.
Border police officials told The Irrawaddy they suspected Muslim militants were attempting to establish militant training camps in the Mayu mountains. U Zaw Htay confirmed that the border police and military were carrying out a clearance operation in the Mayu range, and described Maungdaw as “vulnerable to attack” by militants, alleging that they had been providing “terrorist training” in the area.
One source noted that five militant trainees were reportedly killed in an incident with an improvised explosive device in Thae Ne village in Buthidaung in May near the mountains, and that border police had seized 40 walkie-talkies from an Iman’s house in Chaung Kala (north) village.
“All these activities are linked with Muslim militant movement and evidence that they are trying to take foothold in the Mayu mountains,” said the police official.
According to the State Counselor’s Office Information Committee, 33 Muslim residents were murdered and 19 people went missing between 2016 October to 2017 May.
In October last year, nine border police were killed by suspected Muslim attackers and more than 50 firearms and ammunition were looted.
A months-long clearance campaign by security forces—mired by allegations of extensive human rights abuses—forced more 70,000 Muslim villagers to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, and an unverified number of casualties.
This story has been updated to include U Zaw Htay’s comments.