MAWLAMYINE, Mon State — Police in Mon State capital Mawlamyine have been put on high alert in response to government and military statements alleging that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) plans to attack the city, Mon State chief minister Dr. Aye Zan said on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the government and Myanmar Army said in separate statements that administrative capital Naypyitaw and commercial hubs Yangon, Mandalay and Mawlamyine could be potentially targeted by ARSA—declared a terrorist organization by the government following attacks in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township on Aug. 25.
“We’ve put the police force on alert and we are also planning to reinforce them with extra police” Dr. Zye Zan told The Irrawaddy, adding that he could not provide more details.
Tuesday’s army statement speculated that ARSA had foreign ties and alleged that members had received training abroad as migrants, though did not elaborate.
The attacks could be planned to coincide with the 72nd regular session of the UN General Assembly which will start on Sept. 12, speculated the statement, to win international attention about the conflict in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships in Rakhine State.
It also speculated that ARSA conducted terrorism training to some Myanmar migrant workers in a foreign country some fours ago, and said the trainees are expert at making mines with locally available materials.
According to Mawlamyine’s Mupon Police Station, local police stations have increased patrols around the town both day and night.
“Previously, we only conducted bicycle patrols at night, but we are conducting them during the daytime now,” said Police Sub Lieutenant Yu Mon Saw of Mupon Police Station.
“We also run motorbike and car patrols and sentries. We’ve also increased security in Mawlamyine University
Dr. Aye Zan labelled the attacks in Rakhine State a threat to national sovereignty.
On Aug. 30, Mon State security and border affairs minister Col. Win Naing Oo met Muslim leaders in Mawlamyine and urged them not to accept strangers without national IDs at mosques as a security measure, said U Ohn Thaung, vice-chair of the Islamic Religious Affairs Council.
“There was no violence in Mawlamyine except throwing of stones between Buddhists and Muslims in what can be called as a religious riot around 1983. Since then, there has been no violence,” said U Ohn Thaung.