Security has been scaled up in Nga Yoke Kaung, a coastal sub-township in Irrawaddy Division that borders the southern tip of Arakan State, after attacks by assailants of unverified origin on border police posts in northern Arakan State on Sunday, followed by a ongoing manhunt.
Two light infantry battalions under the Burma Army’s South-Western Command, a naval detachment and units of the police are jointly securing the area, according to locals, who said they have never seen such a large military presence in the area.
“Fully-armed soldiers from Southwestern Command arrived at Gaw Yin Gyi Island near our village this morning [Wednesday], and are stationed there. So is a naval ship nearby,” a community elder of Nanthapu Village told The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity.
Well-armed soldiers also arrived in four military trucks to provide security in and around Nga Yoke Kaung, said U Zaw Win, a local resident.
“I think it is because of the concern that the terror in Arakan State may spread [south] to here. Fishermen are not even going out to sea because of the situation,” he told The Irrawaddy.
Nga Yoke Kaung is on the westernmost tip of Irrawaddy Division, on the Bay of Bengal. The adjacent stretch of sea has been a route used by human traffickers, taking migrants from Bangladesh and northern Arakan State bound for Malaysia and elsewhere in the region. On May 29 2015, an abandoned boat holding 733 trafficked migrants was found off the coastline there.
Irrawaddy Division police chief Col Htun Min has instructed all the police stations in Nga Yoke Kaung sub-township to be on full alert, for “regional security,” a police officer in Nga Yoke Kaung told The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity.