Three Rakhine Civilians Killed as Myanmar Military Shells Villages in Clash With AA

By The Irrawaddy 29 August 2022

Three civilians were killed and several others were injured by junta artillery strikes during a clash between the Myanmar military regime and the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State’s Mrauk-U Township on Sunday.

The shelling occurred after AA fighters ambushed junta troops in Lekka Village as the soldiers were marching along the Yangon-Sittwe road from Kyauktaw to Mrauk-U, according to local residents.

“The fighting took place near the Lekka Creek Bridge. Military battalions from Mrauk-U town fired artillery shells [targeting] the site of the fighting as well as other places,” a Lekka resident told The Irrawaddy.

Some of the artillery shells struck Kin Seik Village in the east of Mrauk-U, killing two villagers at the scene and wounding several others. The injured were rushed to Mrauk-U Hospital, where one later died.

On Saturday, the AA attacked a hilltop outpost of the regime in Khamaung Seik Village in northern Maungdaw, prompting the regime to call in fighter jets to conduct bombing raids.

The Rakhine ethnic armed group recently seized five junta outposts in Chin State’s Paletwa, which neighbors Rakhine State, including one near Abaung Thar Village, where the two sides have clashed frequently since May.

A source from Paletwa said: “[The AA] has been seizing outposts along the Kaladan River and other strategic outposts. Junta soldiers can’t leave their outposts, and food supplies have to be airlifted to them.”

This junta outpost in Than Htaung oversees the Lemyo River. / CJ

Junta troops and police secretly vacated a police station in Thang Htaung Village near the border of Paletwa and Mrauk-U on Aug. 25, according to a Than Htaung villager.

“We only recently found out that both the police and soldiers have left the police station. The police station was deserted,” he said.

There were over 100 junta soldiers and 10 policemen at the police station. Villagers are not clear if they decided to flee or were ordered to secretly withdraw by their superiors.

On May 15, the AA attacked a junta helicopter airlifting food supplies to junta soldiers in Than Htaung, resulting in an exchange of fire.

The junta outpost in Than Htaung oversees the Lemyo River, a crucial transportation route that links Mrauk-U and Minbya in Rakhine with Chin State.

This junta outpost in Than Htaung oversees the Lemyo River. / CJ

Military tensions have been running high in Rakhine State in western Myanmar since around April, when the Myanmar military, deciding that the Rakhine ethnic group posed a growing threat, acted to discourage it from further consolidating its control of the region.

Since an informal ceasefire between the two sides in 2020, the United League of Arakan, the political wing of the AA, has expanded its parallel administration in the state, including a judiciary, revenue department and public security offices.