War For Rakhine: Arakan Army closing in on Myanmar junta western headquarters

The Arakan Army (AA) is getting closer to a full attack on its biggest target so far – the Western Command headquarters of Myanmar’s military – in Rakhine State’s Ann Township, a spokesman for the ethnic army said.

The ethnic army’s effort to isolate the major target is nearing completion, following the capture of sections of the major hilltop base guarding it, while ambushes are preventing the junta from sending reinforcements by land, resistance fighters say.

The AA and allied troops seized sections of Taw Hein hilltop base in the last week of April, after launching an attack on it a month ago, AA spokesman Khaing Thukha said.

“Taw Hein is a tactical command base guarding the Western Command at its front. The regime has been defending it with air support. The Western Command [headquarters] will be open to attack when Taw Hein falls,” he explained. “We have been attacking Ann from all directions,” he added.

A member of the People’s Independence Army (PIA), an ally of the Arakan Army, said outposts guarding Taw Hein base had been seized, adding: “We have so far seized 75 percent of [Taw Hein] base.”

The PIA is a People’s Defense Force in Rakhine State.

Taw Hein is a few kilometers upstream from Kazukaing village and about 32 km northwest of Ann town. The base has a long history of being used to shell villages along Darlet Chaung Creek. Residents of the villages have fled their homes.

Fighting has also been intense near villages in Ann Township where the junta is trying to send reinforcements to the Western Command headquarters. AA troops are ambushing them.

“Junta troops can’t advance. There has been fighting in all the places they are advancing from,” the PIA member explained.

The AA has seized almost every town in northern and central Rakhine since launching its attack on junta troops in Myanmar’s westernmost state in November last year. It is now fighting to drive regime troops out of Ann, Taungup and Thandwe townships in southern Rakhine.

The AA blockaded the Ann-Padan Road, which links Ann with Magwe Region, on April 2. The regime has also blockaded roads and waterways to Ann, cutting off trade. This has caused food and medicine shortages.

A resident of Ann said that although fighting had not yet taken place in the town, prices of consumer goods have soared due to the blockades. A sack of rice now sells for 250,000 kyats (about US$ 70) and a bar of soap is 3,500 kyats (about US$ 1). In Yangon, a similar sack of top-quality rice is selling for 150,000 kyats.

“Trade has been cut off due to the blockade of the Ann-Padan Road. Some people risk the 20-mile walk [to Ngaphe in Magwe] to buy goods and re-sell them. But many people cannot afford [to buy] because the prices are too high. Military planes sometimes deliver goods to sell, but they’re also expensive so people can’t afford them. Sometimes, charities distribute food,” the resident of Ann said.

“Many people are starving. We also can’t buy medicine. In particular, people with diabetes are suffering because it is too hot and they can’t get medicine,” the source added.

Fighting has intensified in Ann and Thandwe townships in southern Rakhine as well as in two townships bordering Bangladesh in northern Rakhine, Buthidaung and Maungdaw.

The AA has seized Ponnagyun, Rathedaung, Ramree, Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw, Minbya, Myebon and Taungpyo towns in Rakhine and Paletwa Township in neighboring Chin State since November of last year.

The ethnic army has given junta commanders and their troops in the 15th Military Operations Command in Buthidaung, the 5th Military Operations Command in Taungup Township and the Western Command in Ann an ultimatum: surrender or die fighting.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 + 4 =