Myanmar Ethnic Armed Group Claims Capture of Junta Personnel in Rakhine

In a significant development in Myanmar’s conflict-ridden Rakhine state, an ethnic armed group announced on May 6 that it had seized control of a military command and detained hundreds of junta personnel. The Arakan Army (AA) claimed responsibility for the capture, marking another setback for the military junta that seized power in a coup last year.

Tensions have escalated in Rakhine since the AA launched attacks on security forces in November, effectively ending a ceasefire that had been in place since the coup. While the military still controls the state capital Sittwe, the AA has made significant gains, seizing territory in surrounding districts and along the border with India and Bangladesh.

A video released by the AA’s media channel showed the aftermath of the capture of Military Operations Command (MOC) 15 near Buthidaung, approximately 90km north of Sittwe. The footage depicted junta personnel, some in military attire, being escorted through a field, with women and children also present among the group. Additionally, around 200 individuals were shown seated in rows in a clearing, under the watchful eyes of armed men in uniform.

According to the AA, the capture followed a period of siege and culminated in the surrender of junta troops after a final assault. The exact timing of the operation was not disclosed, but recent clashes around Buthidaung have been reported by local media.

The AA, one of several armed ethnic minority groups in Myanmar, has been engaged in a long-standing struggle for autonomy and rights for the ethnic Rakhine population. The conflict in Rakhine has a complex history, with clashes between ethnic armed groups and the military dating back to Myanmar’s independence from Britain in 1948.

The recent escalation in violence has led to widespread displacement and casualties, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation in the region. The United Nations has expressed grave concerns over the humanitarian impact of the conflict, with hundreds of thousands displaced and numerous lives lost or shattered.

The capture of junta personnel by the AA represents a significant blow to the military’s authority in Rakhine and underscores the ongoing challenges facing Myanmar’s transition to democracy. As the conflict continues to escalate, efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution and address the root causes of ethnic grievances remain imperative for lasting stability and reconciliation in Myanmar.