New clashes reported between Arakan Army, military in northern Rakhine State

Forces believed to be from the Arakan Army (AA) clashed with the junta in Rakhine State’s northern Maungdaw Township on Monday starting at around 7am, according to locals. 

Residents of the area—which is largely under AA control—said that the battle took place near the village of Tu Raing, which is divided into two communities one mile apart: one ethnic Mro and one Rakhine. The sites are just east of the road connecting Kyein Chaung with Taung Pyo on the Bangladeshi border. 

A Myanmar army unit stationed on a hill in another area village, Mingalar Nyunt, also reportedly got involved, firing up to five artillery shells in the direction of Tu Raing Mro, according to a local man. 

“I heard that the battle started this morning when the military trespassed into the AA’s territory,”  a local man said.

Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify the claim. 

At 11am, an exchange of gunfire was also heard in the woods two miles from the initial site of the fighting, between the villages of Wet Kyein and another known as “Old Myawaddy.” 

Old Myawaddy is located a half mile from the “new” village by the same name on the road connecting Maungdaw town with Kha Maung Seik to the north. 

“We still don’t know what groups were fighting. We had to send the women and the children to the school to take shelter,” a resident of the new Myawaddy village said. 

Myanmar Now was unable to make contact with AA spokesperson Khaing Thukha regarding the recent reports of battles. 

The clashes follow a reported ban by the junta on visits and activities by non-governmental organisation (NGO) staff in northern Maungdaw, where they have been distributing aid as the military allows. 

Speaking to Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity, a local administrative officer said staff from both domestic and international NGOs had been barred from travelling beyond the Kyee Kan Pyin border guard police command centre, less than 10 miles north of Maungdaw town.  

The individual, who spoke to Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity, said that the order had come from the junta’s state-level administrative mechanism. 

“The official letter hasn’t arrived at the township office but it says that people won’t be able to go past the Kyee Kan Pyin command,” the officer said. 

Members of both local and international NGOs told Myanmar Now that they were aware of the forthcoming restrictions. Prior to the recent announcement, they had been allowed to travel into the area only with the permission of the military or the previous government to deliver humanitarian assistance. 

Threats of further violence also were apparent in neighbouring Rathedaung Township on Monday, when around 100 troops from Light Infantry Division 22 carried out searches in Pyar Chaung Gyi village, a local said. 

“Tension is rising in that area. There has been no shooting yet though,” the individual said. 

Locals are also pointing to series of unsolved murders in the state as further evidence of growing regional insecurity. At least three bodies of slain individuals were found over the last week in Sittwe, Pauktaw, and Taungup townships, with no arrests known to have been made by either the coup regime or the AA at the time of reporting. 

“The judiciary systems are failing to take adequate action against criminals,” a local working with a social welfare organisation in Rakhine State said.

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