AA troops surround last Myanmar junta base in Maungdaw, Rakhine

Arakan Army (AA) troops have entered Maungdaw town in Rakhine State after seizing all junta positions including border guard police bases north and south of the town, sources close to the AA told The Irrawaddy on Thursday.

The only junta presence left in Maungdaw Township is Border Guard Police Battalion 5 in Myo Thugyi ward and junta troops in the town, according to one source.

“The border guard police battalion is under siege and can’t mobilize. The junta has deployed a sniper unit and Muslim armed men in the town. The AA has begun fighting in the town while rescuing its residents,” the source said.

The regime is retaliating with continuous bombing raids in Maungdaw, supported by Border Guard Police Battalion 5 artillery strikes, he said.

One Maungdaw resident said: “I heard that some of the Muslims fighting alongside regime troops have surrendered to the AA. Clashes have started in the town, but I don’t know the details as I can only hear gunfire. The regime is conducting continuous airstrikes on the town.

Rakhine media reported that the AA rescued more than 4,000 Muslim civilians from Shwe Zarr ward in Maungdaw town and nearby villages on June 26.

On June 16, the AA issued a statement warning Maungdaw residents to leave overnight as it was poised to attack junta positions in the town.

The ethnic Rakhine armed group is also close to seizing Thandwe town, gateway to the country’s famed Ngapali beach, where only one infantry battalion is left to be defeated.

The AA has taken control of over half of Rakhine State – nine of its 17 townships – since launching an offensive in November last year. The ethnic army has also taken control of neighboring Paletwa Township in Chin State.

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