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Myanmar Armed Group Presses Offensive in Rakhine State

Fighters from an ethnic minority group pressed their assault on security forces in Myanmar’s Rakhine state for a second day Tuesday, a spokesman said, as an offensive against the military widens across the country.

Arakan Army (AA) fighters seized an outpost of the border police at Chinkhali in Rakhine state on Tuesday morning, spokesman Khaing Thu Kha told AFP.

The AA also attacked military outposts on two hills in Paletwa township in neighboring Chin state at dawn on Tuesday, he said.

In Paletwa, the military had responded with air strikes and heavy artillery fire, and the fighting was ongoing and “intense,” Khaing Thu Kha said.

Local media also reported the clashes in Paletwa township and said two women had been killed in artillery firing.

The AA has for years fought a war for the autonomy of the state’s ethnic Rakhine population, and has a presence in neighboring Chin state.

There was a heavy security presence on the streets in the Rakhine capital Sittwe on Tuesday, with police blocking roads to the airport and the local court, a resident told AFP, requesting anonymity.

On Monday, AA fighters had clashed with security forces in Rathedaung, Maungdaw, and Minbya townships, the AA said in a statement.

Six of its fighters and 10 members of the security forces were killed, the statement said.

Last month the AA launched a joint offensive with two other ethnic armed groups across a swathe of northern Shan state near the China border.

The AA, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) have blocked two vital trade routes to China and seized a vital border crossing.

The fighting in the north — which the United Nations says has displaced more than 50,000 civilians — has sparked the most significant military challenge to the junta since it seized power in 2021, analysts say.

The Monday clashes in western Rakhine state came as anti-coup fighters said they were fighting the military near the capital of eastern Kayah state near the Thai border.

The Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) was “trying to seize” the town of Loikaw, KNDF chairman Khun Bedu told AFP late Monday.

The junta had launched at least three air strikes during “very strong” fighting around the town, he said.

The KNDF is among dozens of groups battling to restore democracy after the army ousted Aung San Suu Kyi‘s government.

Junta-backed media on Tuesday reported its opponents had attacked Loikaw on Monday, using “heavy and small weapons,” without giving details.

“Armed engagements” were ongoing, the Global New Light of Myanmar said.

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