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Rakhine chief minister says expect ‘terrorist’ threat to linger

Nyi Pu, the chief minister of Rakhine State, took office in 2016.

Rakhine State Chief Minister Nyi Pu has cautioned that Muslim militancy is a continuing threat in the western state, where a military vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device last week, injuring at least five people.

“Terrorists will most likely come to the state again and launch attacks,” he said on Wednesday, speaking to reporters on a field visit to conflict-wracked Maungdaw Township in the state’s north.

“We regularly receive information that the terrorists are coming back to Rakhine State,” he added. “We have been informed about how they have made preparations, how they have been trained and how they would enter to the state. We can assume that the incident [involving the military vehicle] indicated that the terrorists had come again.”

According to official accounts, the military vehicle was struck by a remote-controlled landmine near Turaing village in northern Maungdaw on 5 January. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militant group later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Nyi Pu told reporters that measures for repatriation, resettlement and security of local civilians would proceed despite the possible recurrence of terrorist attacks. He added that upgrades to existing border fences are underway.

More than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine State to Bangladesh since 25 August, when ARSA militants staged deadly attacks on several police posts in the state, prompting a harsh crackdown by security forces.

The ostensible counter-insurgency campaign that has followed was described last year by the UN human rights chief as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” though the Burmese government and military both deny any widespread misconduct by security forces.

Colonel Phone Tint, the Rakhine State minister for Security and Border Affairs, this week said border guard personnel have been deployed to areas where ARSA attacks previously occurred.