Rebel army closes in on 2 townships in western Myanmar

More than 750 junta soldiers were killed during the capture of two bases, the group claimed.
By RFA Burmese
2024.07.08
Rebel army closes in on 2 townships in western Myanmar Soldiers from the Arakan Army pose in front of Rakhine state’s recently captured Thandwe Airport on July 5, 2024.
Arakan Army Information Desk

Ethnic minority insurgents seized two junta bases in Myanmar’s west and killed more than 750 soldiers, the group said in a statement, as its fighters close in on the main town in the west of Rakhine state, and make advances in the south.

Radio Free Asia was not able to independently verify the Arakan Army’s report of advances and casualties among the junta forces it is battling, but residents of both regions have been reporting heavy fighting for weeks, as the insurgents advance towards Maungdaw town and to the south, battle for control of Thandwe town.

RFA tried to contact Rakhine state’s junta spokesperson, Hla Thein, to check on the situation but he did not respond by the time of publication. 

The Arakan Army, which has been fighting the military regime for territory in Myanmar’s Rakhine and Chin states, has captured 10 townships since late last year, part of a series of setbacks the junta that seized power in a 2021 coup has suffered in different regions.


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In June, the Arakan Army, or AA, told civilians to evacuate Maungdaw township, a trade hub on the border with Bangladesh, where fighting had been escalating for weeks. 

The AA captured a border guard camp near Maungdaw town on Saturday at around noon, killing more than 350 junta troops and seizing weapons, the group said in a statement.

A resident told Radio Free Asia on Monday that fighting had since moved closer to Maungdaw as the AA attempted to capture the  last base in the area, known as the No. 5 border guard post.

Civilians in the city said they were afraid of getting caught up in the approaching fighting.

"Junta soldiers and some Muslim armed men trained by them have been stationed near the town's mosque,” said one resident who declined to be identified for security reasons.

“I don't know what will happen. We’re watching the situation carefully.”

One civilian was killed and several were wounded when an artillery shell exploded on Saturday, residents said.

The other main battle in Rakhine state has been taking place over the town of Thandwe, about 350 km (217 miles) southwest of Maungdaw.

The AA said in a statement on Saturday it captured the headquarters of the No. 566 Light Infantry Battalion and nearby junta camps in the Thandwe area on June 27, including one at Thandwe Airport.

Residents of the area, home to one of Myanmar's main beach resorts, had earlier reported that the airport had fallen to the AA on June 23.

The AA said its fighters had killed about 400 junta troops and seized weapons and ammunition during the clashes in the Thandwe area. There had been casualties for the AA, the group said, but it did not give details.

The rebels are trying to capture the junta’s last main base in the area, the headquarters of the No. 55 Light Infantry Battalion, the group said, adding that junta forces from some 10 nearby bases were mounting a defense of the area by land and sea.

The AA said it was trying to cut off the junta’s main headquarters in four Rakhine state townships, including Danyawaddy Naval Base in Kyaukphyu and the Western Regional Military Headquarters in the town of Ann.

Danyawaddy is part of the Kyaukphyu deep sea port complex and a special economic zone that is being developed by China. The development is due to include energy pipelines that will stretch across Myanmar to the Chinese border.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Mike Firn. 

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