The Arakan Army has reportedly launched attacks on a major Arakan Liberation Army (ALP) outpost along the Burma-India border, with a senior leader of the latter telling DVB that at least one soldier from the ALP’s armed wing was killed in the fighting.
Saw Mya Yarzar Lin, the ALP secretary, confirmed the ambush of the ALP base, which is located in Paletwa Township, Chin State, along Burma’s shared border with the Indian state of Mizoram.
“The AA [Arakan Army] launched armed attacks on the ALP base. The skirmishes have been going on until today,” she told DVB on Wednesday.
Saw Mya Yarzar Lin said the initial attack was preceded by an act of subterfuge on the part of Arakan Army soldiers.
“Around 10pm on 21 August, an official, Khine Mwee Thwee, and a private, Khine Than Htike, were arrested. They [Arakan Army soldiers] actually deceived them. They did not point guns at them and arrest [them]. Instead, they said they have something to say to them. Around 2am the next day, they launched attacks on the ALP base. Yesterday, a private was killed.”
Speaking to DVB on Wednesday morning, the ALP secretary initially said she was hearing that the ALP base had been overrun. She later said reports on the status of the Paletwa outpost were conflicting and could not be confirmed at time of publication.
She was able to say with confidence that three privates from the ALP’s armed wing, the Arakan Liberation Army, were seriously injured and another two had gone missing, in addition to a private’s death on Tuesday.
Discordance in relations between the two Arakanese armed groups is not unheard of: Previously, disputes have arisen over taxation and territory-related issues, but those feuds were eventually resolved after the two ethnic armed organisations engaged in dialogue.
This week’s hostilities mark an unprecedented escalation in tensions between the two sides.
“Historically, we have never experienced anything like this,” Saw Mya Yarzar Lin said. “We thought of AA as a mother organisation and the members of the army as sons and daughters. All Arakanese are working for the cause of Arakan State and the Arakanese people. In the history of the Arakanese, this could be the worst anomaly — entirely undesirable. This should not be happening.”
She added, “The ALP has a policy; it will not launch attacks against any other Arakanese ethnic armed groups. When the ALP base was attacked, the ALP countered as a defensive action. We needed to defend the ALP base.”
“Regarding the attack, we sent a letter to the Arakan Army to cease its offensive but have not received any reply yet,” she said.
DVB’s attempts to contact the Arakan Army on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
The ALP signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the previous government in October 2015, along with seven other non-state armed groups. The Arakan Army has not signed the accord, and is one of four ethnic armed groups that banded together in November 2016 to form the “Northern Alliance,” which has had an actively adversarial relationship with the current government and military.