Rakhine rebels kill nine Myanmar policemen
YANGON: Arakan Army insurgents killed nine Myanmar policemen in the latest attack in the country's western Rakhine State, the government said yesterday, as clashes threaten to engulf a large part of the troubled region.
Villagers heard gunfire as fighters from the armed group, which recruits from the mainly Buddhist Rakhine ethnic group, raided a police post in the village of Yoe Ta Yoke late on Saturday night.
The Myanmar Ministry of Information said on its Facebook page that nine policemen, all of them recruits from the village, were confirmed dead and one other was still missing.
"Around 60 members of the AA terrorist group attacked using small and large weapons," the statement said.
Saturday night's attack took place about 50km north of the Rakhine state capital Sittwe, along the main road connecting the city with the rest of Myanmar.
A villager in his 50s told Reuters that two policemen stationed at the post survived the attack, which took place shortly after 11 pm local time.
"The battle went on for about 20 minutes," said the villager, who asked not to be named. "I was in the village at that time and I heard gun shots, but the villagers didn't run away."
The insurgent Arakan Army killed 13 policemen in a similar attack further north in January and has frequently clashed with Myanmar security forces since December.
Myanmar's leaders vowed to crush the rebels, who are fighting for autonomy for Rakhine, but clashes have spread to new areas, displacing more than 5,000 people.
Authorities have declared large parts of the north of the state off-limits to most aid agencies.
In 2017, attacks on security posts by insurgents from the Muslim Rohingya minority provoked a military crackdown in the state. - REUTERS