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Myanmar ethnic army secures 2 bases after month-long battle

An ethnic minority insurgent force in Myanmar has captured two strategic positions near the junta’s regional military headquarters in Rakhine State, residents told Radio Free Asia on Wednesday.

The Arakan Army (AA), which has gained control of eight townships in Rakhine State from the military following a 2021 coup, seized another two camps on Saturday, they said. The junta positions at Chaung Byu Har hill and Taw Hein Taung Byu Har in Ann township are now under the control of the rebel group, the residents said.

Arakan Army fighters began attacking the two camps on March 24, said one woman in Ann township. The positions are near the headquarters of the Western Regional Command, one of at least a dozen regional commands across the country.

“Casualties among junta troops are high but the exact number is not known. Some say it’s about 150,” said the woman, who declined to be identified for security reasons. 

“But it can be confirmed that those two strategic hills have been seized,” she said, adding that hundreds of junta troops were believed to have been stationed at the camps. 

RFA tried to contact the  junta spokesperson in Rakhine State, Hla Thein for more information but he did not respond. The AA has not released any information about the latest fighting.

Forces opposed to military rule, including various ethnic minority insurgent groups seeking self-determination and pro-democracy activists who took up arms after the 2021 coup, have made significant gains since allied forces launched an offensive in October last year.

A person close to the Arakan Army told RFA that retreating junta troops had fled towards the Western Regional Command headquarters in Ann.

“The battle is continuing,” said the source, who also declined to be identified.

The junta had in recent days been sending reinforcements and weapons to beef up defenses at the headquarters, he said.

The Arakan Army has also been attacking the junta’s operations command headquarters in Rakhine State’s Buthidaung township and captured three outposts there on Tuesday, residents said. 

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Mike Firn.