90 junta soldiers surrender to rebel army on Myanmar border

Since the Arakan Army announced the offensive, the group has killed 20 junta troops in a township bordering Bangladesh.
By RFA Burmese
2024.03.26
90 junta soldiers surrender to rebel army on Myanmar border Junta troops in Rakhine state’s Maungdaw district on Sep 27, 2017.
STR/AFP

Updated at March 26, 2024 at 5:55 p.m. ET.

Ninety junta soldiers surrendered to an ethnic army on Monday in Myanmar, residents told Radio Free Asia. 

The Arakan Army, one of the many ethnic groups opposing the military, launched an attack on a junta base in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state. It is located in Maungdaw township, south of the Bangladesh border, civilians living in a nearby village said. 

Since the Arakan Army ended a year-long ceasefire by launching an offensive on Nov. 13, 2023, the group has captured eight townships across Rakhine state and one neighboring township in northern Chin state. The group declared in early March they intend to fight for total control of Rakhine. 

Junta troops have retaliated in territories lost to the Arakan Army with indiscriminate and deadly attacks on civilians, killing more than 70 in March alone. 

Some of the more than 120 soldiers in Ah Shey Rakhine village’s junta base managed to flee during the Monday capture, but the remaining about 90 troops surrendered around noon, according to a resident of nearby Ta Man Thar village. 

“Thirty-five junta soldiers have fled, but the remaining troops in the camp surrendered in the afternoon when the Arakan Army asked them to surrender,” he told RFA, asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. 

Rebel group spokesman Khaing Thu Kha did not respond to RFA’s inquiries. 

While the Arakan Army has not released any updated information on the Ah Shey offensive, a press release stated the armed group killed 20 junta soldiers attempting to flee from Ta Man Thar camp during an attack on Sunday.

Residents told RFA they have frequently fled the area since junta troops occupied the base in late November and began attacking nearby villages. 

Arrest warrants for doctors

Also in Maungdaw township, residents told RFA that junta authorities have issued arrest warrants for two of the area’s leading doctors who have defied a recent order to relocate to Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state.

On March 1, the junta shut down the public hospital and several private clinics in the township amid recent intense fighting with the Arakan Army. 

Doctors and other medical personnel were told to relocate to Sittwe, leaving residents without access to health care.

On Monday, junta authorities directed police to arrest the township’s medical superintendent, Dr. Nu Kaythi San, and assistant doctor Dr. Aung Naing Lin to prevent their departure from the country. 

They were alleged to have fled to an area controlled by the Arakan Army, residents said.

“As a resident, I feel sad,” a Maungdaw resident familiar with the situation told RFA. “With these warrants in place, who would be willing to work at the hospital? If there are no health workers to serve, the health of the township’s residents will be more of a concern.”

Maungdaw’s public hospital has remained shut since March 1, but most doctors and other health workers have refrained from relocating to Sittwe.

RFA’s attempts to reach Hla Thein, the junta’s spokesperson for Rakhine state, for comment on the arrest warrants were unsuccessful.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan, Mike Firn and Matt Reed. 

Updates with material about arrest warrants for doctors at a public hospital in the region.

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