By HTUN KHAING | FRONTIER
YANGON — The militant group that launched attacks in northern Rakhine State last week was planning to establish a Rohingya “territory” in the region, a senior government official has claimed.
Speaking at an event for international diplomats at Yangon’s National Reconciliation and Peace Center on Tuesday, Minister for Home Affairs Lieutenant General Kyaw Swe said that the Arakan Rohingya Solidarity Army had planned to capture Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships “to establish a territory of their own”.
Kyaw Swe said the group had launched about 60 attacks since late on Thursday night and as a result had “damaged the ruling systems of the villages”. He added that government forces had now taken control in the two townships.
The home affairs minister also repeated claims made in state media that “some INGO [international non-government organisation] staffs [sic] were seen in the terrorist group”.
“In some reports we were received, we heard that some non-government organisations were involved,” he added.
He said that iron tubes and ammonia nitrate fertilizer used for construction in the region by international agencies was used in hand-made landmines and for gunpowder in the attacks.
The United Nations has since pulled out all “non-essential” staff from the area, Reuters reported.
Neither Kyaw Swe nor government national security adviser U Thaung Tun, who was also present at Tuesday’s briefing, provided evidence of collusion between NGO staff and the militant group.
In a tweet on Monday, Mr Phil Robertson, Asia director for Human Rights Watch said it was “profoundly irresponsible” of the government to accuse international aid agencies of colluding with ARSA without solid evidence.