AP NEWS

Myanmar says 9 police killed in Arakan Army attack

March 10, 2019

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Nine policemen were killed in an attack in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine by the increasingly active Arakan Army rebel group, the country’s Information Ministry said Sunday.

The ministry’s website said 60 Arakan Army insurgents on Saturday night attacked the police post, which was safeguarding question and answer sheets from the national high school matriculation examination.

The Arakan Army, which is aligned with Rakhine’s Buddhist population, seeks autonomy for the region. Rakhine is better known as the site of a brutal counterinsurgency campaign by the military against the Muslim Rohingya minority, causing more than 700,000 to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. Attacks on police by the Rohingya ARSA insurgent group — which has become largely inactive — triggered the crackdown.

The government declared the Arakan Army a terrorist organization after it killed 13 police officers and wounded nine in attacks on Jan. 4. The Arakan Army on its website claims to have killed 10 government soldiers in a March 8 battle, but that incident has not been confirmed.

Myanmar’s military announced in January that government forces clashed with the Arakan Army 15 times in 2015, 26 times in 2016, 56 times in 2017 and 61 times in 2018, while the rebels also planted some mines. They said that up to mid-January this year, there have been at least eight armed encounters.

The Arakan Army, founded in 2009, is estimated to have several thousand well-armed and organized uniformed members, in contrast to the ragtag and virtually dormant Rohingya guerrillas of ARSA. The Arakan Army is known to have trained in areas controlled by other ethnic rebel forces, especially in Kachin state.

Details of Saturday night’s attack were also included in a leaked local police “Combat Report,” which said nine officers were killed and two slightly injured, and that 12 weapons, including 10 BA-63 assault rifles, were taken away by the attackers.

The report said “the enemy” had strongly attacked the police station from three directions, using light and heavy weapons, and that the post’s defenders defied shouted demands to surrender, with shooting ending shortly before midnight.