Military announces live-fire artillery drill off coast of Rakhine

The Myanmar military will carry out a live-fire drill with artillery weapons on islands off the coast of Rakhine state on Friday, an apparent bid to show off defensive capabilities almost three weeks after commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing seized power in a coup. 

“The Tatmadaw warns all boats, motorboats, and ships not to enter the 10-mile radious around the islands where shooting practice is planned,” said the statement from Western Command, which was distributed to locals on Tuesday. 

The drill will be conducted from camps on the islands of Mayu, Munaung, Kyun Thar Yar  and Nant Thar, it added. 

“They are going to shoot at exact spots and points in the sea,” said Rathedaung township administrator Aung Myint Thein.  Aung Myint Thein. “Almost everyone knows about it. I’m aware they’ll be practising in areas including the waters along the Mayu coastal area.” 

Two years of fighting in Rakhine between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army came to a halt in November last year. 

Analysts believe the ceasefire may have happened in anticipation of the February 1 coup to allow the military to focus its efforts on consolidating power and in a bid to incentivise forces in Rakhine not to work against the military. 

The military has also announced on 15 February that it will clear landmines in areas of Rakhine state to allow internally displaced people to return home. 

Maung Than Myint, administrator of the coastal village of Pauktaw Pyin village, which is six miles from Nant Thar island, said locals there had also been warned about the drills.  

“I don’t know where they will shoot. The military has warned people not to go near Nant Thar island for fishing or for picking vegetables,” he said. 

Nant Thar island sits in the Bay of Bengal at Mayu estuary, at the southern end of the villages of Angu Maw, Kone Dan and Pauk Taw Pyin in Rathedaung.

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