Myanmar army uses helicopters, fighter jets against civilians in Rakhine

Myanmar Army top officials Major General Tun Tun Nyi (L), Major General Soe Naing Oo (C) and Major General Zaw Min Tun (R) attend a rare military press conference at the Defence Service Museum in capital Naypyidaw on January 18, 2019. (Photo by Thet AUNG / AFP)

Fighting near Rakhine’s capital of Sittwe reached a fever pitch last night when the Myanmar military used helicopters and fighter jets against civilians in a week-long clash with the Arakan Army (AA), according to Myanmar Now.

Locals in Pone Nar Kyun Township told the Burmese language outlet that the Myanmar military used aerial bombings against civilian structures in Boddaw village, destroying a home.

“They have been fighting for 5 – 8 days; it has been more intense recently. At night, they bombed our area with fighter jets and helicopters. A helicopter destroyed one house but luckily the people were able to escape. Villagers are running away because of the fighting,” Boddwa village resident, Ko Thein Shwe told Myanmar Now.

Fighting between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army has become increasingly intense since late last year, and hostilities continue to escalate. Just this past week, AA forces took 11 Myanmar army soldiers as prisoners and seized their weapons after a clash in Chin State’s Paletwa township, close to Rakhine state.

Over the weekend, in the second deadliest attack by the rebel army, they also killed nine police officers and injured two others during an attack in Rakhine State’s Ponnagyun township.

Union government officials are expressing their concern about the intensifying situation between the Myanmar military and AA and expressed their desire for peace talks if the AA would sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), the spiritual successor to the Panglong Agreement, one of the founding documents of independent Myanmar.

Myanmar has been embroiled in the world’s longest running civil war, which began just a few years after gaining independence from the British in 1948. Despite numerous attempts by the NLD government to end the conflict, the dream of a peaceful Myanmar is still out of reach.

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