Troop buildup in Maungdaw raises spectre of renewed Rakhine conflict

Troop buildup in Maungdaw raises spectre of renewed Rakhine conflict

Residents of the northern Rakhine border township of Maungdaw say they are concerned that full-scale clashes may break out between the military and the Arakan Army (AA) as the junta increases its presence in the region

“The military has been increasing its presence every day. On May 3, eight military vehicles carrying soldiers and weaponry arrived,” a local source in Maungdaw told DVB.

Although a temporary ceasefire between AA and the military has been in place since the 2020 General Election, skirmishes between the groups have flared up since last 2021.

Recent troop deployments to northern Rakhine mean that clashes could break out at any time, according to military observers.

Troops from military bases in Buthidaung townships are alleged to be standing guard in shifts around the clock, and have been reinforced with manpower, weapons, and food.

Three military battalions have also been deployed in the town of Rathedaung, according to local sources.

The junta has tightened security by deploying 24-hour security, building brick fences, and installing CCTV at all regime-affiliated buildings including fire stations and the headquarters of military battalions and regiments.

In addition to the buildup, armed troops are said to regularly enter wards in the town at night to stage midnight checks, stationing themselves at busy roads and crowded junctions, searching the mobile phones, vehicles, and motorcycles of passers-by and stealing food from those they encounter.