Militants attack Myanmar police outposts

Buddhist militants in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine State have reportedly killed 13 police and injured nine others in attacks on four police posts to coincide with independence day.

The official government reports cannot be independently verified as the media is prevented from reaching large areas of Rakhine State.

Fighting revived early last month after attacks by the ethnic-Rakhine Arakan Army. The group wants greater autonomy for the ethnically distinct, impoverished province.

The Arakan Army does not mention religion as a factor in its insurgency although it has no links with the Muslim-Rohingya community, which dominates the international news agenda about Myanmar.

The rebel force is estimated to have several thousand well-armed and uniformed personnel.

The insurgency between the military and Arakan Army has forced 2,500 civilians from their homes, the UN reported.

An independent Arakanese kingdom ruled in the remote region, blocked off from its neighbours by large rivers and dense forests, until the British invasion in the 19th century.

The Burmese government said four police posts in Buthidaung Township near the Bangladeshi border were attacked by hundreds of Arakan Army personnel at dawn.

Around 14 members of the security forces were taken captive during the raids, along with 40 weapons and ammunition, it was reported.

The government said the military was now “clearing” the area.

Military spokesman Zaw Min Tun said the insurgents hit police outposts near the border with Bangladesh.

The government said it reclaimed the outposts with air support.

Arakan Army spokesman Khine Thu Kha confirmed the attack and said seven “enemy” bodies had been found.

He confirmed that the attacks were intended to coincide with an independence day that the rebels regarded as entirely bogus.

“We are not independent yet. Today is not our independence day,” he said, referring to the Rakhine community which he said faced discrimination in Myanmar.

He said rebels freed at least 12 security forces personnel captured in the operations, adding that the attacks were in response to military offensives in recent weeks that had left civilians dead. The army denies targeting civilians.

The generals announced a four-month halt in fighting ahead of peace talks with multiple armed groups fighting for autonomy, but that announcement excluded Rakhine State.

The Arakan Army has said the army was using the truce elsewhere to focus operations on Rakhine.

Large swathes of the impoverished union are in the insurgents’ hands. Myanmar has more than 20 rebel armies with combined personnel outnumber the government’s armed forces.

 

 

The Arakan Army is one of many large rebel armies in Myanmar. Picture credit: YouTube