Fight­ing dis­places 500 peo­ple in Rakhine

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News - CHAN THAR chan­[email protected]­

CLASHES be­tween the Tat­madaw (mil­i­tary) and Arakan Army (AA) have forced more than 500 peo­ple to flee their homes in north­ern Rakhine State.

The AA says the fight­ing has been in­tense, with the mil­i­tary de­ploy­ing heavy weapons and air­craft, in­clud­ing he­li­copters.

“Since Novem­ber 29, there have been more than 40 clashes be­tween the Tat­madaw and AA in Buthi­daung, Rathedaung, Pon­nagyun and Kyauk­taw town­ships in north­ern Rakhine State,” said AA spokesper­son Khaing Thukha.

On De­cem­ber 6, an ex­plo­sion along Buthedaung-maung­daw road killed two peo­ple. Ac­cord­ing to the Thin­gaha Kan­lat Rakhita Aid As­so­ci­a­tion, there are more than 100 refugees in Sai Din vil­lage in Buthi­daung, and 337 in Pon­nagyun.

The mil­i­tary has set up check­points along the Sit­twe-kyauk­taw-myauk-u road, said U Ann Thar Gyi, chair of the as­so­ci­a­tion. “The in­spec­tions have been car­ried out be­fore, but now they are more fre­quent due to the re­newed fight­ing,” he said, adding that food, blan­kets and clothes are needed for the refugees.

In a De­cem­ber 6 an­nounce­ment from the Of­fice of the Com­man­der-inchief of De­fence Ser­vices, the mil­i­tary said the fight­ing be­gan with an at­tack on a mil­i­tary pa­trol near the Bangladesh bor­der.

The mil­i­tary has re­peat­edly re­ferred to the AA as an in­sur­gent group.

The AA, to­gether with its al­lies the Myan­mar Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance Army and Ta’ang Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Army in the North­ern Al­liance, has an­nounced its will­ing­ness to co­op­er­ate po­lit­i­cally and called for mil­i­tary ac­tions to cease.

The gov­ern­ment’s Peace Com­mis­sion has wel­comed the an­nounce­ment and said it will work with the al­liance on a bi­lat­eral cease­fire agree­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to eth­nic af­fairs ex­pert U Maung Maung Soe, the fight­ing is over con­trol of ter­ri­tory and, fol­low­ing a meet­ing be­tween the al­liance and the gov­ern­ment on De­cem­ber 12, prospects im­proved for a cease­fire.

The AA, formed in 2009, hasn’t signed the Na­tion­wide Cease­fire Agree­ment. In 2015, the group be­came ac­tive in Rakhine, Chin State and along the Bangladesh bor­der.

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