The Irrawaddy

Over 100 Teachers Evacuated From Border Town in Northern Arakan State

Burma Army airlifts teachers and locals from an area close to the Bangladesh border in Maungdaw Township of northern Arakan State on Thursday. (Photo: Office of the Defense Services Commander-in-Chief)

More than 100 teachers in government schools have been evacuated via Burma Army helicopter from the small settlement of Taungpyoletwea by the Bangladesh border, in Maungdaw Township of northern Arakan State, with just over 20 remaining to be airlifted.

These evacuations, with the teachers flown in to neighboring Buthidaung Township, are taking place after fatal attacks on border guard police posts on Sunday, followed by a manhunt focused on Maungdaw Township, has led to several dozen deaths among police, Burma Army soldiers and suspected militants.

Most of the estimated 250 assailants who attacked the police posts remain at large, according to state media. At least six suspects have been arrested.

“[The attackers] have done nothing to teachers. No [teacher] has suffered injury so far,” said Maungdaw Township education officer U Khin Aung, who added that the Burma Army was preparing to evacuate the remaining 20 teachers in Taungpyoletwea.

Alongside the 114 teachers that have been airlifted since Thursday, the Burma Army has evacuated 50 government officers, one monk, and 16 local residents, according to the office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services.

An unverified number of residents of rural villages in Maungdaw Township have reportedly fled to Maungdaw town, with monasteries providing shelter.

U Tun Hla Sein, a state lawmaker representing Maungdaw Township, said, “Locals have fled for the town for fear of food shortages. Most vendors [in their villagers] are Muslim, and have closed their shops.”

Schools have been closed in Maungdaw and neighboring Buthidaung townships since the beginning of the week due to security concerns. Education officer U Khin Aung said whether schools would re-open after the Thadingyut festival, which lasts for the duration of next week, would hinge on an improvement in the security situation.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko