The group responsible for the October attacks on Border Guard Police outposts in northern Rakhine State are planning to launch fresh attacks in the coming months, several sources familiar with the matter have told Frontier.
The sources, all who are based in northern Rakhine State and spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the tense security situation in the region, said they had received information from witnesses that training exercises for launching attacks had been conducted in remote areas of Maungdaw Township since late March.
The sources said the exercises were being conducted with mock weapons, but that they had received information that arms and ammunition were being trafficked into the area from Bangladesh through different checkpoints, often with drugs being smuggled in the opposite direction.
The group, which was initially named as Harakah al-Yakin, or Faith Movement, but has since been referred to as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, is planning its attacks in June to coincide with the beginning of rainy season, the sources said.
In March, ARSA released a statement asserting its right to self-defence and denying links to any terrorist organisation.
“We do not commit any form of terrorism against any civilian regardless of their religious and ethnic origin as we do not subscribe to the notion of committing terrorism for our legitimate cause,” said the statement, according to an article published by the Associated Press.
“Men who we don’t know are often coming in and going out in hybrid cars,” said one source, adding that the men were believed to be meeting with senior level security officials.
In late March, security forces said they believed they had foiled planned attacks by the group when they found weapons in remote areas of Maungdaw Township.