Open main menu

Arakan Army (Kachin State)

The Arakan Army (Burmese: ရက္ခိုင့်တပ်တော်; abbreviated AA) is a Rakhine armed group in Myanmar (Burma), founded on 10 April 2009.[1] 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."[citation needed]

Arakan Army
Participant in the internal conflict in Myanmar
Flag of the Arakan Army
Flag of the Arakan Army
Active10 April 2009 (2009-04-10) – present
IdeologyRakhine nationalism
LeadersTwan Mrat Naing[1]
Nyo Twan Awng
HeadquartersLaiza, Kachin State (temporary)
Area of operationsChin State,[3]
Kachin State,
Rakhine State,
Shan State,
Bangladesh–Myanmar border
AlliesNorthern Alliance[5]

Other allies

Opponent(s)State opponents

Non-state opponents

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,[9] including personnel stationed in the Rakhine State near Myanmar's border with Bangladesh.[10][11][12] The Irrawaddy stated in September 2015 that the AA had 2,500 troops and 10,000 supporters.[13] As of November 2019, the AA's numbers increased to about 20,000 in estimates, rapidly becoming the second largest, if not the most largest currently active ethnic armed group in Myanmar (Burma) behind the United Wa State Army (abbreviated UWSA).[4] Since the last estimate, AA also quickly became the most supported armed group among Arakanese in Rakhine state and beyond - possibly becoming the armed group with the most popular recognition and support in the country.


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."[14]


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.[15]

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.[citation needed]

In February 2015, AA fought alongside the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), an ethnic armed group, and its ally the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in their conflict with the Myanmar Army.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18]

On 20 August 2015, the Arakan Army clashed with a Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) patrol after ten of their horses had been confiscated by the BGB earlier that day.[19]

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.[20] Several Tatmadaw personnel, including one commanding officer, were killed in sniper attacks. Many others were injured.[21]

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."[6]

According to the BBC, there is popular support for the Arakan Army in Mrauk U and a number of men from the town have recently joined the group.[22]

In November 2017, the group was involved in heavy clashes with the Tatmadaw in Chin State, in which 11 Tatmadaw soldiers were killed.[23]

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.[24][25]

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.[26] Thirteen members of the Border Guard Police (BGP) were killed and nine others were injured,[27][28][29] 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.[30][31] 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.[32]

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.[33] Civilian casualties,[34] arbitrary detention of ethnic Rakhine villagers,[35] and military blockage of food aid and medical relief were also reported.[36]

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.[37] 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.[38]

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.[citation needed]

In July 2019, Myanmar Police by cooperating with Singapore Government arrested AA Chief's younger brother, Aung Mrat Kyaw with other members who was accused that they supported AA financially and in September his younger sister and brother-in-law were detained by Myanmar Police on the way of returning from Thailand. [39]

On 22 September 2019, fighting broke out near Taungyi Village in Myebon Township where Arakan Army updated photo of seized weapons and ammunition and also picked up bodies of 10 government soldiers according AA spokesman Khine Thukha.[citation needed]

On Saturday of 26 October 2019, rebel soldiers from riverbank near Mayu River abducted a ferry from Sittwe to Buthidaung Township carrying identify government soldiers and polices later inspected by the Arakan Army. After military helicopters attacks with rockets and machine guns as rescue, sank two boats and nearly killed off its own men and few soldiers from Arakan Army have died there according to statement issued by the United League of Arakan. In Naypyidaw, news press conference by Tatmadaw saying that they helicopters attacks are necessary to wipe the insurgents on their duty said by military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun. News medias claimed that all 3 boats with total of 165 passengers and 50 government personnel with 58 people being abducted and 14 were rescued later one helicopter was suffered some damages from gun fires left one wounded.[40]


  1. ^ a b "About AA". Arakan Army. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  2. ^ "ARAKAN ARMY ( AA )". Arakan Army. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Internet Blackout Imposed on Myanmar's Restive Rakhine State". Agence France-Presse via Voice of America. 23 June 2019. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Rise of the Arakan Army in Burma — this is not Game of Thrones, the suffering is real". The Times. 18 November 2019. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  5. ^ Lynn, Kyaw Ye. "Curfew imposed after clashes near Myanmar-China border". Anadolu Agency. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Mathieson, David Scott (11 June 2017). "Shadowy rebels extend Myanmar's wars". Asia Times. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Myanmar army ordered to take offensive against Arakan Army". AP via Washington Post. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  8. ^ "Spokesman: Myanmar Army Kills 13 Rebels in Rakhine Clashes". Reuters via VOA. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  9. ^ Administrator. "Armed ethnic groups". Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  10. ^ Diplomat, Richard Potter, The. "Myanmar: New Front in an Old War". Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  11. ^ "Far From Home, Arakan Rebels Fight on Kachin Frontline". Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  12. ^ "Arakan Army Calls for Calm After Bangladesh Border Clash". Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  13. ^ "'I Want to Stress That We Are Not the Enemy'". Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  14. ^ "AA စစ္ဦးစီးခ်ဳပ္ ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္ ထြန္းျမတ္ႏိုင္ႏွင့္ အင္တာဗ်ဴး (အပိုင္း - ၂)". ဧရာဝတီ (in Burmese). 11 January 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  15. ^ Administrator. "AA (Kachin Region)". Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  16. ^ Times, The Myanmar. "Ethnic allies join Kokang fight". Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Refugees From Ruined Village Say Myanmar Army Trapped Them". Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  18. ^ "Arakan Army Calls for Calm After Bangladesh Border Clash". Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  19. ^ "Arakan Army attack Border Guard Bangladesh patrol".
  20. ^ Thu, Mratt Kyaw. "Rakhine refugees await return after Arakan Army clashes". Frontier Myanmar. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  21. ^ Holmes, Oliver (8 January 2016). "Myanmar army clashes with ethnic Rakhine rebels". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  22. ^ Head, Jonathan (8 February 2018). "Hatred and despair in an ancient kingdom". BBC News. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  23. ^ "Tatmadaw Troops Killed and Wounded in Arakan Army Ambush". The Irrawaddy. 9 November 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  24. ^ "Myanmar Says Police Attacked as Western Fighting Displaces Thousands". The New York Times. 2 January 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  25. ^ "Analysis: Arakan Army - A Powerful New Threat to the Tatmadaw". The Irrawaddy. 8 January 2019. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  26. ^ Lintner, Bertil (3 January 2019). "Arakan Army clashes with government forces in Rakhine state". Asia Times. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  27. ^ "13 policemen die in Rakhine rebel attacks". The Straits Times. 5 January 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  28. ^ Aung, Min Thein (4 January 2019). "Rakhine Insurgents Kill 13 Policemen, Injure Nine Others in Myanmar Outpost Attacks". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  29. ^ Aung, Thu Thu; Naing, Shoon (4 January 2019). "Rakhine Buddhist rebels kill 13 in Independence Day attack on..." Reuters. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  30. ^ Emont, Jon; Myo, Myo (4 January 2019). "Buddhist Violence Portends New Threat to Myanmar". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  31. ^ "AA Frees 14 Police, 4 Women Captured in Attack on Border Posts". The Irrawaddy. 5 January 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  32. ^ "President Convenes Top-Level Security Meeting in Wake of AA Attacks". The Irrawaddy. 8 January 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  33. ^ "UN Calls for 'Rapid and Unimpeded' Aid Access to Myanmar's Rakhine". The Irrawaddy. 15 January 2019. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  34. ^ "Three Villagers Shot Dead in Fighting Between Gov't, AA Troops in Rakhine". The Irrawaddy. 15 January 2019. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  35. ^ "သရက္ျပင္ေက်းရြာအုပ္ခ်ဳပ္ေရးမွဴးအပါအ၀င္ ၁၅ ဦးကို တပ္မေတာ္ ဖမ္းဆီး". Radio Free Asia (in Burmese). Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  36. ^ "Concern Mounts for IDPs in Northern Rakhine as Army Blocks Aid Shipments". The Irrawaddy. 9 January 2019. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  37. ^
  38. ^ Army, Arakan. "၂၀၁၉ ခုႏွစ္၊ မတ္လ(၉) ရက္ ၊ဗ်ဳဟာမႉးေနထိုင္ေသာစခန္းအား အၿပီးသတ္တိုက္ခိုက္ေခ်မႈန္းေသာတိုက္ပြဲသတင္း". Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  39. ^ {{cite web|title = Singapore detains Myanmar nationals accused of Arakan Army links|url = 30 Oct 2019
  40. ^ "A Daring Helicopter Rescue After Rebels Capture a Ferry in Myanmar". New York Time. Retrieved 28 October 2019.

External linksEdit