Fighting intensifies on Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh

Fighting has intensified along Rakhine State’s border with Bangladesh in southern Maungdaw Township as the Arakan Army (AA) attacks border guard police positions to seize the entire township in the state’s northwest, residents of the township say, The Irrawaddy reports.

They said the ethnic army is targeting border guard police positions in the township’s south after seizing northern Maungdaw.

“The AA controls all of northern Maungdaw. Fighting is taking place in southern Maungdaw now. Three [junta] positions have fallen over the past few days,” a resident of the township said on Wednesday, adding that two junta bases – Mawyawaddy and Myin Lut – “are on the brink of falling.”

The base of Border Guard Police Battalion No. 5 on the outskirts of Maungdaw town in Myo Thu Gyi ward is the only key junta base that the ethnic army has yet to attack, the source said, adding that junta troops are still deployed in Maungdaw town.

The AA seized two small bases near the border guard police battalion headquarters near Kyauk Panu village earlier this week, and is attacking other battalion headquarters in Inn Din, Myin Lut and Mawyawaddy villages, residents said.

The headquarters of Border Guard Police Battalion No. 9 near Myint Lut village on the Maungdaw-Agnumaw Road occupies land that had been home to Muslim villages before they were razed during communal violence in 2017.

The headquarters of Border Guard Police Battalion No. 6 is located in Inn Din village where Myanmar military soldiers massacred 10 Rohingya people in 2017.

Pro-junta Telegram channels reported that three outposts guarding Border Guard Police Battalion 9 fell on Monday and Tuesday. A police outpost in Ywa Thit village has also fallen, and the bases of border guard police battalions 6 and 9 are under siege, according to the channels.

The regime is using fighter jets and warships to defend its border guard police positions against AA attacks, forcing residents of nearby villages to flee.

Fighting also broke out near the village of Ngwe Taung – near the headquarters of Border Guard Police Battalion No. 4 – on the road linking Maungdaw and Buthidaung, Rakhine media reported.

The regime is providing air support around the clock for its Mawyawaddy hilltop tactical command base and the border guard police battalion in Myint Lut village, the reports say.

Junta troops who fled from other bases in Maungdaw have joined the Border Guard Police Battalion No. 5 in Myo Thu Gyi ward and downtown Maungdaw.

The regime is sending reinforcements to Maungdaw town by sea. The AA has blockaded the road to the town after seizing Buthidaung, Rakhine politician U Pe Than said.

“The regime has moved its defense lines forward,” he said. “I heard that it is sending reinforcements by sea because the AA blockaded the road to Maungdaw through Buthidaung. It will be difficult for the regime to repulse the AA’s attacks on the town because the road to the town is blocked,” U Pe Than said.

The Irrawaddy was unable to obtain comment from the AA about fighting in Maungdaw Township at press time. The regime has remained silent about fighting in Rakhine State.

The AA said in a statement on Sunday that it will attack all junta positions in Maungdaw, Ann, Kyaukphyu, Taungup, Manaung, Thandwe and Gwa townships, which are still under the control of the regime. The AA controls nine of the state’s 17 townships.

Thandwe Airport in Thandwe Township was shut after fighting intensified near it. The airport is close to Ngapali Beach, one of the country’s major tourist destinations.

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