At least 10 arrested after soldier abducted in northern Rakhine

Junta forces rounded up at least 10 people in the northern Rakhine State town of Ponnagyun on Saturday, days after the abduction of a soldier by members of the Arakan Army (AA). 

According to local sources, many of the arrests were made near the town’s Myoma market, where a soldier from Light Infantry Division 55 was nabbed while shopping last Thursday. Another soldier targeted at the same time managed to escape.

Residents said that around 50 or 60 regime troops were involved in a sweep of the market and other parts of the town on Sunday morning. 

“We saw some taxi drivers and a betel seller get arrested near the Aye Sayti pagoda at around 9:30am. We also noticed that a couple of them had their hands tied behind their backs,” said one witness who did not want to be identified.

“They grabbed 10 people or more. Some were local, but some had come in from the countryside. They seemed to be just arresting people at random,” he added.

Another witness said he saw several people get arrested at a local tea shop. 

“They let people go if they could show their national ID cards, but those who didn’t have theirs on them were taken into custody. Even if someone went and got their cards for them, they weren’t freed,” the witness said.

Residents said the soldiers also closed all roads in and out of the town and fired a number of shots after making the arrests.

“Everyone is staying indoors. No one dares to go out right now,” said one Ponnagyun resident.

Residents said that the market erupted into a state of chaos on Thursday when six AA members attempted to grab the two soldiers.

Tensions have been high in northern Rakhine State in recent months, amid occasional clashes between the AA and the Myanmar military, which has reportedly sent reinforcements into the area. 

Local residents say that junta troops have also been targeting civilians, as they did when the two sides were engaged in a two-year conflict that ended in late 2020.

At a recent press conference, the AA confirmed that it had arrested two regime soldiers in Rakhine’s Kyauktaw Township on June 11 as “revenge” for the detention of several of its members since last month.

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