Rebel units of the Arakan Army (AA) have retreated following clashes with Burmese government forces last week in the area surrounding Paletwa in Chin State, state media reported on Wednesday.
The military-owned Myawady newspaper reported that “Rakhine [Arakanese] insurgents were in retreat on 17 April, following engagement with government troops in the region of Paletwa.”
The report said that following a tip-off by local residents, Burmese troops staged raids on AA hideouts, “resulting in the arrest of five insurgents and the seizure of arms and ammunitions”.
However, the AA vice-chief of staff, Col. Dr. Nyo Tun Aung, told DVB on Wednesday that they could not verify whether the five arrested were from their militia.
“We were in contact with all units until 21 April,” he said by telephone. “However, we lost contact with some of our people after 10pm that evening. We are in the process of verifying what happened. The uniforms [of the five arrested who were pictured in state media] are not the kind of fatigues we usually wear. But we have many different columns and are checking.”
He added that several Paletwa residents were supporting the AA and that some young villagers had joined their cause.
Clashes also broke out late last week between the AA and government forces near the village of Pinlon, about 14 miles to the west of Kyauktaw in Arakan State.
The Arakan Army is an Arakanese Buddhist rebel organisation formed in 2008. It has most recently been involved in fighting the Burmese army in northeastern Shan State where it is allied with the Kokang rebel force Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army, the Ta-ang National Liberation Army and reportedly the Kachin Independence Army.