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The Burmese army has claimed that troops conducting a security sweep of northern Arakan State in the wake of coordinated attacks on border police last Sunday have discovered flags belonging to a militant Rohingya group.
According to a report by the army mouthpiece Myawady published by state media on Friday, a search conducted in the village of Warpeik, in Maungdaw Township’s Kyikanpyin Village Tract, uncovered 24 flags of the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), a group formed in 1982 but believed to be practically defunct.
The discovery was made following an attack on security forces in the village on Wednesday that left 25 homes destroyed by fires that the army claims were set by the alleged assailants.
In addition to the flags and 40 RSO badges and a uniform, troops also discovered a sword, a burnt MA-11 assault rifle, 11 cartridges of various calibers and 1,510 rounds of ammunition, according to the Myawady report.
Burmese soldiers also captured one alleged attacker, identified as Phawsaulamauk (aka Phweba), it added.
Initial reports of the three apparently coordinated attacks that left nine border police officers dead on Sunday speculated that they might have been carried out by the RSO. So far, however, no group has claimed responsibility.
Despite doubts about whether the RSO is still active, Burmese authorities routinely cite the group as an ongoing threat to the country.
In April of last year, police authorities in Naypyidaw declared a yellow alert amid reports that some 200 members of the RSO were trying to infiltrate the country, either through India or Bangladesh.
“We have received information that 300 RSO members who trained in India are trying to get into our country. It is no secret. Everybody knows. The Indian army has arrested 100 of them. Two hundred are missing,” Deputy Regional Police Chief Zaw Khin Aung said at the time.
In May 2014, tensions flared between Burma and Bangladesh after Burmese troops shot and killed a Bangladeshi border guard in an incident blamed on an alleged incursion by suspected RSO members.
In a statement released several days later, Burma’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Burmese troops had “opened fire on two suspected armed Bengalis … who were intruding into Myanmar territory about 80 feet from the border line.”