Ij reportika Logo

Arakan Army claims capture of third city in Myanmar’s west

An ethnic armed organization in Myanmar announced it has now captured three major cities, according to a statement from the Three Brotherhood Alliance. 

Rakhine state’s Arakan Army (AA) claims to have captured the last major junta territory in Mrauk-U, effectively taking control of the city. On Thursday, the group captured Police Battalion 31, following earlier captures of junta Battalions 377, 378, and 540.

Both junta soldiers and policemen surrendered during the battle, said one Mrauk-U resident, asking to remain anonymous for security reasons.

“The fighting in Mrauk-U is over. Locals are not allowed to enter the city at the moment. The No. 31 police battalion has also been captured by the AA,” he told RFA on Friday. “I heard they surrendered. But the AA attacked the military battalions. The junta troops surrendered after the battalion commander died.”

However, it’s unclear how many police officers and soldiers surrendered and are in Arakan Army custody, he said, adding that the situation wasn’t stable yet.

The Arakan Army currently occupies all 10 battalions formerly under control of the junta’s Kyauktaw-based No. 9 Military Operation Command Headquarters. The army also controls three townships across Rakhine: Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw, and Minbya.

There is currently no military police or soldier presence in the townships, residents said, adding that most had surrendered, fled, been captured, or died during battles.  

Radio Free Asia contacted the Arakan Army’s spokesperson Kaing Thu Kha and Rakhine’s junta spokesperson Hla Thein for more information on the battle, but neither responded by the time of publication.

The regime has not released any information on conflicts in Rakhine state, including Thursday’s battle in Mrauk-U.

The Three Brother Alliance, consisting of three ethnic armies, has made huge gains in Rakhine and Shan states since launching its campaign at the end of October, prompting thousands of junta troops to surrender or flee to neighboring countries.

Bangladesh’s foreign minister Hasan Mahmud announced 340 members of Myanmar’s Border Guard Police fled to Bangladesh on Wednesday, adding they would be returned to Myanmar.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.