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90 junta soldiers surrender to rebel army on Myanmar border

Arakan Army (The Henry L. Stimson Center/Released)
March 31, 2024

This article was originally published by Radio Free Asia and is reprinted with permission.

Ninety junta soldiers surrendered to an ethnic army on Monday in Myanmar, residents told Radio Free Asia. 

The Arakan Army, one of the many ethnic groups opposing the military, launched an attack on a junta base in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state. It is located in Maungdaw township, south of the Bangladesh border, civilians living in a nearby village said. 

Since the Arakan Army ended a year-long ceasefire by launching an offensive on Nov. 13, 2023, the group has captured eight townships across Rakhine state and one neighboring township in northern Chin state. The group declared in early March they intend to fight for total control of Rakhine. 

Junta troops have retaliated in territories lost to the Arakan Army with indiscriminate and deadly attacks on civilians, killing more than 70 in March alone. 

Some of the more than 120 soldiers in Ah Shey Rakhine village’s junta base managed to flee during the Monday capture, but the remaining about 90 troops surrendered around noon, according to a resident of nearby Ta Man Thar village. 

“Thirty-five junta soldiers have fled, but the remaining troops in the camp surrendered in the afternoon when the Arakan Army asked them to surrender,” he told RFA, asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. 

Rebel group spokesman Khaing Thu Kha did not respond to RFA’s inquiries. 

While the Arakan Army has not released any updated information on the Ah Shey offensive, a press release stated the armed group killed 20 junta soldiers attempting to flee from Ta Man Thar camp during an attack on Sunday.

Residents told RFA they have frequently fled the area since junta troops occupied the base in late November and began attacking nearby villages.