Myanmar’s rebel Arakan Army captured 30 government soldiers, including a battalion commander, near the Paletwa township in western Myanmar’s Chin state during heavy fighting this week, the ethnic armed group said in an announcement on Tuesday.
A large quantity of weapons was captured along with the group, said the AA—a mostly ethnic Rakhine force that seeks greater autonomy in neighboring Rakhine state. The group added that a number of its own troops were killed during the clash.
Speaking to RFA’s Myanmar Service on Wednesday, AA spokesman Khine Thukha confirmed the capture, saying the fighting had occurred near Paletwa, where hostilities have spilled over in recent weeks from neighboring Rakhine.
“We had some fighting in Paletwa township on March 9 and 10. We captured 20 soldiers, including Light Infantry Battalion No. 7 commander Col. Thet Naing Oo,” the AA spokesman said.
“We captured 10 more today, including a major and another major from a medical unit. Now we have a total of 30,” he added.
Other officers and soldiers from Myanmar’s government army had also been captured in 2019, Khine Thukha said, while declining to give more detailed information for reasons of security.
Reached by phone for comment, Gen. Tun Tun Nyi—vice chairman of the Myanmar military’s True News Information Team—declined to give a statement, saying he was traveling and was unaware of the troops’ capture.
Also speaking to RFA, a resident of Chin state’s Miewa village said he had seen government troops in AA custody, though.
“I saw that the AA took about 30 soldiers while they were passing our village,” he said.
Fighting between AA troops and government forces has now raged around Miewa, Mont Than Pyin, Kyauttan, and Pwe Wone villages in Paletwa for almost a month, with at least two villagers killed and four injured by artillery fire and airstrikes launched from fighter jets and helicopters, sources say.
Meanwhile, in fighting to the south in Rakhine, a woman was killed and six people injured when a shell fell into Kyauktaw township’s Kyaw Shi Pyin village at about 2:00 a.m., local sources said.
In a recent statement, the Rakhine Ethnics Congress (REC) relief group said that fighting has displaced about 130,000 people in Rakhine and adjacent Chin state since early 2019, with more than 100 killed and 300 injured.
Reported by Waiyan Moe Myint for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Richard Finney.