Arakan Army ‘less than 2 KM’ from Myanmar’s Thandwe Airport

Fighting between the regime and the Arakan Army (AA) in Rakhine State’s Thandwe Township is moving closer to the town, with the latest hostilities occurring just 1.6 km from Thandwe Airport close to Ngapali Beach, The Irrawaddy reports.

The clashes erupted around 4 pm on Sunday and regime troops responded by firing shells overnight and into Monday morning, Thandwe residents said.

“We can hear artillery strikes and continuous gunfire this morning,” a resident of Nat Pyin village told The Irrawaddy on Monday morning.

The two sides clashed in the mountains west of Gaw ward in Ngapali town, site of the famed Ngapali Beach. The battle forced residents of Sinkyet village and Gaw ward to flee their homes on Sunday.

Regime troops have however blocked the only escape route, said Thandwe residents.

“People who fled from Gaw to Ngapali town were trapped after the junta blocked the road. I heard [junta-affiliated] militias were also trapped. Others managed to get through before the roadblock was imposed. We saw large crowds of displaced people near Thandwe Hospital yesterday,” a Thandwe resident told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

Around four civilians were reportedly injured in Gaw ward during the fighting.

Gaw ward is located at the north end of Ngapali Beach, sandwiched between the Bay of Bengal and the mountains where the fighting is taking place.

Last month, regime warships fired empty shells at Ngapali, Lin Thar and Jeik Taw wards in Ngapali town as the junta began evacuating administrative staff from Ngapali and neighboring Thandwe town.

On Sunday morning, fighting was also reported on the Thandwe-Taungup road, some 8 km from Thandwe town. Fighting has been raging in Thandwe Township since April 13. Sunday’s clash was the first in Thandwe since May 22.

Since launching its offensive in November, the Arakan Army has seized 10 towns across Rakhine State’s 17 townships, plus Paletwa Township in southern Chin State.

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