Fresh fighting in Rakhine forces villagers to flee

MAUNGDAW — A new round of fighting between government troops and an alleged militant group has led to dozens of residents fleeing their villages in northern Rakhine State.

On Wednesday, Frontier saw dozens of people leaving their villages of Thayay Konbaung, Mawrawaddy and Kainggyi, near Alel Than Kyaw, and escaping to Maungdaw, which is about 14 miles to the north.

“We have been hearing the sound of gunfire and explosions since 11:30am,” one of the villagers, Ma San Thein Phyu, 39, told Frontier shortly before 1pm. “The men remain in the villages but we women and children came running out,” she said.

By about 3pm the fighting near Alel Than Kyaw had ended with government troops seen returning to the Border Guard Police Central Command Centre north of Maungdaw.

Frontier saw many of the villagers at a gate about three miles from Maungdaw, which is close to the Bangladesh border and has been the scene of fighting since the early hours of October 9. It has not yet been officially confirmed which group is involved in the fighting with the police and Tatmadaw forces.

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Security forces told Frontier by telephone that fighting is currently taking place on the road to Taung Pyo Let Wel near Sabaigon Village in Maungdaw Township. Rumours have also spread of fighting at a Border Guard Police headquarters in Kyee Gan Byin village, but this has not been confirmed.

The fighting has so far claimed the lives of at least nine police, four soldiers and seven civilians, according to state media.

By Mratt Kyaw Thu

By Mratt Kyaw Thu

Mratt is a Senior Reporter at Frontier. He began his career at Unity Weekly Journal in 2010 and focuses on political reporting. In 2017 he won the Agence France-Presse Kate Webb prize for his coverage of ethnic strife in Myanmar.
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