The Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (AA) clashed for the whole day near mile post No. 38 on the Myanmar-Bangladeshi border in northern Maungdaw in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State on Tuesday.
Locals reported hearing continuous artillery strikes fired by the regime. “We heard shelling from the morning,” said a resident of Mee Tike Village. The fighting took place until evening.
Tensions have been running high between the Myanmar military regime and the AA, with frequent skirmishes being reported in Rathedaung and Maungdaw in Rakhine and in Chin State’s Paletwa.
The regime has blocked off roads and waterways in Maungdaw, Rathedaung and Paletwa, while bringing in reinforcements and mobilizing its troops.
Some 37 Myanmar junta soldiers were killed in clashes with the AA in Rakhine and Paletwa on Saturday.
Thirty-one junta soldiers were killed in a clash in Rakhine’s Rathedaung Township near the road linking Rathedaung and Maungdaw, while six more soldiers from the Sittwe-based Light Infantry Battalion 270 were killed in a clash near Kyauk Pandu Village on the Rathedaung-Maungdaw border, the AA said.
On Monday, the AA attacked hilltop outposts of Light Infantry Battalion 289 in Paletwa.
After two years of intense fighting starting in late 2018, the two sides observed an informal ceasefire ahead of the election in November 2020. With military tensions escalating since February this year, some fear Rakhine is edging ever closer to a return to full-blown armed conflict.
Other observers however say large-scale fighting is still unlikely in Rakhine as the AA might not want to see the Rakhine people plagued by war again, while the military, which has its hands full fighting People’s Defense Force groups and ethnic armed organizations across the country, might not be eager to open a new front.