An officer of the Arakan Army was killed on Thursday when junta troops reportedly fired on one of the their bases in Laiza, Kachin State, sources within the ethnic armed organisation said.
According to AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha, the military’s shells not only killed one officer, but injured several others. A unit under junta command began firing 120mm heavy artillery shells from its base on a hill some four miles west of Laiza at around 10am on Thursday.
“The captain died of his injuries at around 4pm yesterday,” Khaing Thukha told Myanmar Now in a phone interview on Friday.
Despite observing a temporary truce with the Myanmar military in Rakhine State since November of last year, the Arakan Army has mostly been at war with Myanmar military since its founding in 2009.
Its stated mission is to fight for the sovereignty of the Rakhine people and its membership is predominantly ethnically Rakhine, but it was initially based in Kachin State and fought alongside the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), one of many other other ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) in Myanmar.
Now made up of several thousand troops, the AA currently operates mainly in Rakhine State but has maintained bases in areas under the control of the KIA and other armed groups in northern Myanmar.
Violence has escalated in Kachin State since July, when the military sent around 1,000 reinforcement troops as to Nam Sang Yang village, Waingmaw Township, located on the strategically important Myitkyina-Bhamo road in Kachin State, and began repeatedly assaulting KIA forces operating in the area.
Major armed clashes between the AA and the Myanmar military occurred in northern Rakhine State starting in 2018, but came to a halt with an informal ceasefire in late 2020.
Fighting between the AA and the military resumed for a few months in 2022 before the two sides agreed to a temporary truce. However, the truce was only in effect within Rakhine State.
Members of United League of Arakan (ULA), the political wing of the AA, have issued instructions to villagers in northern Rakhine State to dig trenches where they can take cover in the event of future battles.