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Myanmar Ethnic Armed Group Says Captured Hundreds of Junta Personnel

A Myanmar ethnic armed group said on Monday it had captured a military command and taken hundreds of junta personnel prisoner in western Rakhine state, the latest blow to the military.

Clashes have rocked Rakhine since the Arakan Army (AA) attacked security forces in November, ending a ceasefire that had largely held since the junta’s 2021 coup.

The military still holds the state capital Sittwe but AA fighters have seized territory in surrounding districts, including bases on the border with India and Bangladesh.

A video released by the AA’s media channel said the group had captured “Military Operations Command 15” near the town of Buthidaung, around 90 kilometers (55 miles) north of Sittwe.

The video did not say when its fighters had captured the site but local media have reported regular clashes around Buthidaung in recent days.

“The video record of the deputy commander of MOC 15 after a certain period of siege,” read a message published in Burmese, Chinese, and English.

After a “final assault” the junta troops had “faced total defeat and surrendered,” it said.

Images showed a long line of men, some wearing what appeared to be military uniforms, walking single file through a field.

Some were in shorts and T-shirts and sandals while others were not wearing any footwear. Some shots showed women and children accompanying the men.

One man with a bandage around his knee was limping and some were being carried in makeshift stretchers.

The video also showed around 200 people sitting in rows in a clearing and men in uniform and guns watching over them.

AFP has attempted to contact a junta spokesman for comment.

The AA is one of several armed ethnic minority groups in Myanmar’s border regions, many of whom have battled the military since independence from Britain in 1948 over autonomy and control of lucrative resources.

The AA claims to be fighting for more autonomy for the state’s ethnic Rakhine population.

In 2019 clashes between the AA and the military roiled the region and displaced around 200,000 people.

In 2017 the military launched a crackdown on the Rohingya minority there that is now the subject of a United Nations genocide court case.

Since the November outbreak, fighting had spread to 15 of Rakhine state’s 17 townships, the UN’s human rights chief said last month.

Hundreds have been killed or wounded and more than 300,000 displaced, it said.

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