An armed ethnic minority group in Myanmar has said it captured a town and several junta outposts near the border with Bangladesh and India, in the latest setback for the embattled military.
Clashes have rocked Myanmar’s western Rakhine and Chin states since the Arakan Army (AA) attacked security forces in November, ending a ceasefire that had largely held since the junta’s 2021 coup.
The AA is one of a dozen armed ethnic minority groups in Myanmar’s border regions, many of whom have battled the military since independence from Britain in 1948 over autonomy and control of lucrative resources.
The group said late Sunday that AA fighters had seized the town of Paletwa in Chin state, around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Bangladesh border.
Paletwa sits on the Kaladan river, which a New Delhi-backed infrastructure initiative hopes to use to link India’s landlocked northeast to the Bay of Bengal.
The AA posted pictures it said showed its fighters outside the town’s police station and general administration office.
It said it was now in control of all of Paletwa township, which had a population of over 64,000 people according to the 2014 census.
The AA also said it had captured six military bases along the border with India’s Mizoram state.
AFP could not confirm the reports.
In October an alliance of the AA and two other ethnic minority groups launched a joint offensive across Myanmar’s northern Shan state, capturing towns and seizing vital trade hubs on the China border.
Last week the alliance announced a China-mediated ceasefire in Shan after months of conflict that posed the biggest threat to the junta since it seized power.