Arakan Army (Kachin State)
The Arakan Army (Burmese: ရက္ခိုင့်တပ်တော်; abbreviated AA) is a Rakhine insurgent group in Myanmar (Burma), founded on 10 April 2009. It is the armed wing of the United League of Arakan (ULA), and is currently led by Major General Twan Mrat Naing. The purpose of the AA, as stated by its second-in-command Nyo Twan Awng, is to "protect our Arakan people, and to establish peace, justice, freedom and development."
ရက္ခိုင့်တပ်တော်Participant in the internal conflict in Myanmar
Emblem of Arakan Army
|Active||10 April 2009– present|
|Leaders||Twan Mrat Naing|
Nyo Twan Awng
|Headquarters||Laiza, Kachin State (temporary)|
|Area of operations||Chin State,|
|Part of||United League of Arakan|
|Battles and war(s)||Internal conflict in Myanmar|
|Designated as a terrorist organisation by|
The AA is a participant in the Kachin conflict, fighting alongside the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) against the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces). Most AA soldiers were originally trained at the KIA Military Academy; however, the AA has additional training camps in Rakhine State. According to the Myanmar Peace Monitor, the AA had more than 1,500 troops in 2014, including personnel stationed in the Rakhine State near Myanmar's border with Bangladesh. The Irrawaddy stated in September 2015 that the AA had 2,500 troops and 10,000 supporters. In 2019, the AA's numbers increased to an estimated 7,000 fighters.[better source needed]
The Arakan Army has stated that it advocates for:
- self-determination for the multi-ethnic Arakanese population
- the safeguarding and promotion of the national identity and cultural heritage of the Arakan people
- the "national dignity" and best interests of the Arakan people
In an interview with The Irrawaddy, Arakan Army commander-in-chief Twan Mrat Naing replied to an interviewer's question by saying, "Whether the objective is to obtain a federal union of democracy or the more autonomous confederate status like that of Wa State, the political objective of the group is to obtain confederate status for Rakhine State, and we prefer confederate status like that of Wa State, which has a larger share of power in line with the constitution."
The Arakan Army (AA) was founded on 10 April 2009 along with its political wing, the United League of Arakan (ULA), in what it describes as its "temporary headquarters" in Laiza, Kachin State.
Following training, the group had planned to return to Arakan State and fight for self-determination; however, with the outbreak of fighting in Kachin State in June 2011, they were unable to return. As a result, they took up arms against the Myanmar Army in support of the KIA. In 2014, the AA started a settlement in Rakhine State (home land) near the border with Bangladesh and another near the border of Thai-Myanmar with which it has become much stronger and its combat abilities have been positively impacted.
In February 2015, AA fought alongside the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), an ethnic armed group, and its ally the Taang National Libration Army (TNLA) in their conflict with the Myanmar Army. Hundreds of armed men from the Myanmar troops were reportedly killed in this conflict.
In April 2015, the AA clashed with the Myanmar Army in Kyauktaw Township of Rakhine State and Paletwa Township of Chin State. On 27 August 2015, there was a clash between the AA and the Bangladesh border guard forces, with both sides opening fire near the Boro Modak area of Thanci in the Bandaran district, near the shared Burma-Bangladesh border.
In December 2015, the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army engaged in several days of fighting, around 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Sittwe at the border between Kyauktaw and Mrauk U townships. An unknown number of military personnel were killed in the fighting. Several Tatmadaw personnel, including one commanding officer, were killed in sniper attacks. Many others were injured.
Following clashes between Rohingya insurgents and Burmese security forces in northern Rakhine State in October 2016, the Arakan Army released a press statement, calling the perpetrators (the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) "savage Bengali Muslim terrorists" and the violence a "rampage of the Bengali Islamic fundamentalist militants in northern Arakan."
On 21 December 2018, the Myanmar Army declared a four-month unilateral ceasefire in five conflict areas, saying it would hold talks with non-signatories of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) during the ceasefire period. However, the Western Command (stationed in Chin State and Rakhine State) was notably excluded from the unilateral ceasefire announcement and an increase in clashes between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army was reported.
On 4 January 2019, around 300 members of the Arakan Army launched pre-dawn attacks on four border police outposts—Kyaung Taung, Nga Myin Taw, Ka Htee La and Kone Myint—in northern Buthidaung Township. Thirteen members of the Border Guard Police (BGP) were killed and nine others were injured, whilst 40 firearms and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition were looted. The Arakan Army later stated that it had captured nine BGP personnel and five civilians, and that three of its fighters were also killed in the attacks. Following the attacks, the Office of the President of Myanmar held a high-level meeting on national security in the capital Naypyidaw on 7 January 2019, and instructed the Defense Ministry to increase troop deployments in the areas that were attacked and to use aircraft if necessary.
Myanmar Army soldiers from the 22nd Light Infantry Division, elements of the 66th and 99th Light Infantry Divisions, and battalions from the Western Command of the Tatmadaw were reportedly involved in the subsequent military offensive against the Arakan Army. Clashes were reported in Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Kyauktaw, Rathedaung and Ponnagyun Townships, located in the northern and central parts of Rakhine State. The Rakhine State government issued a notice blocking non-governmental organizations and UN agencies, except for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Food Programme, from travelling to rural areas in these townships affected by the conflict. The fighting prompted 5,000 civilians to flee from their homes and to take shelter in monasteries and communal areas across the region, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Civilian casualties, arbitrairy detention of ethnic Rakhine villagers, and military blockage of food aid and medical relief were also reported.
On 9 March 2019, around 60 AA insurgents launched an evening attack on Yoe-ta-yoke Police Station. According to a leaked combat report, nine policemen were killed, two were injured, and a dozen weapons, including 10 BA-63 assault rifles, were stolen by the attackers. On the same day, AA insurgents managed to conquer the front line commanding post of Rakhine State's Gwa Township-based No. 563 Light Infantry Battalion under the supervision of Light Infantry Division No. 5. According to a press release by the Arakan Army, 11 personnel, including four military engineers, were captured and 16 backhoe excavators, one Toyota car, a dump truck, and 60 mm and 80 mm mortars were confiscated.
On 9 April 2019, around 400 AA insurgents attacked the No. 31 Police Sercuity Unit at 10 pm. The Tatmadaw retaliated with fighter jets, bombing AA positions until 6 am the next day.
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