Sunday’s attacks in Maungdaw that left at least nine Burmese police officers dead have ignited passions once again, with many quick to point fingers at Muslim militants.
DVB spoke to Arakan regional government spokesperson Min Aung yesterday to gather exactly what facts are known and what, at this stage, is mere speculation.
Question: Can you tell us what you know so far about last night’s attacks on border guard outposts?
Answer: The attacks took place in the early hours of the morning in three separate areas –Maungdaw’s Kyikanpyin and Ngakhuya, and Kotankauk in Rathedaung. At this time, we have only received a telegram from the regional government detailing the attack in Kyikanpyin, but no official information yet on Ngakhuya and Kotankauk.
Q: What happened in Kyikanpyin?
A: Around 90 people armed with swords and clubs tried to overrun the border guard headquarters in Kyikanpyin. There are four sentry posts in the perimeter; the mob carried out synchronised attacks on two of them at around 2am. The police were caught off-guard. The attackers killed policemen and seized firearms from the sentry posts before proceeding to attack the main base.
Q: Can you give us details on casualties?
A: Five police personnel including a commanding officer and a lance-corporal at the Kyikanpyin post were found dead with slash wounds. Their weapons and ammunition had been taken by the attackers.
Q: How many weapons?
A: One BA-94 (Burmese variant of uzi), one M99 pistol, and 240 .9mm rounds and 120 7.62 rounds from the sentry post. Also a large quantity of firearms from the main base.
Q: Do we know which armed group is responsible for this attack?
A: We believe it was not an armed group. According to the telegram [from regional government], it was a Bengali mob armed with swords and clubs.
Q: Which militant groups are active in this area? Is there anyone else who could have been responsible?
A: At this time, we cannot establish if there is a ‘militant group’ behind the assaults. We only know that there were around 90 attackers.
Q: Were the attacks synchronised?
A: The attacks were simultaneous. But so far we only have a situation report from Kyikanpyin. Ngakhuya and Kotankauk have been on lockdown.
Q: How is the army responding to the situation?
A: The army locked down the entire area and are sweeping the woods to find the attackers.