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Myanmar calls on its military to launch crackdown on Rakhine insurgents

Myanmar’s authorities have ordered their army to launch operations to crack down on an ethnic Rakhine insurgent group after deadly attacks last week in the Rakhine state. 

The Arakan Army (AA), an armed ethnic group fighting for more autonomy, carried out raids on four police posts in the town Buthidaung, North Rakhine. The attack took place on Myanmar’s Independence Day, leaving 13 police officers dead and nine injured. 

A government spokesman, Zaw Htay, said that the attacks happened just minutes after the national flag was raised across the country, marking 71 years of Independence from colonial power Britain. 

However, the AA’s spokesperson, Khaing Thu Kha said the attacks were not intended to coincide with the anniversary, adding, “we are not independent yet”.

“Today is not our Independence Day."

The military had declared a four-month long ceasefire with other armed groups in other states but continued its military operations against the AA in Rakhine. Fighting between the government forces and the AA commenced in early December when unclaimed attacks and murders took place in northern Rakhine. 

The United Nations’ humanitarian agency stated that clashes between the security forces and the AA has led to the displacement of 4,500 people. Displaced people have sought shelter in monasteries and other makeshift camps. 

The site of the police attacks, Buthidaung, which saw much of the ruthless military campaign against Rohingya Muslims in 2017. After facing brutal persecution, over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee to Bangladesh.  

See more from Al Jazeera here and here and the New York Times here.

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