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Myanmar beach town rocked by heavy clashes

The fighting near Ngaplai Beach came as the civilian death toll from a massacre in Sittwe township climbed to 76.


June 6, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

Fighting has intensified over the weekend near one of Myanmar’s premiere resort beaches in Rakhine state after ethnic rebels attacked three junta outposts and the military responded with multiple airstrikes, residents said.

The uptick in clashes came as the death toll of civilians killed in a military raid on a village near the state capital of Sittwe last week increased to 76, according to the ethnic Arakan Army, or AA, one of several rebel groups fighting the military junta that took control of the country in 2021.

Residents of Rakhine’s Thandwe township said that the latest round of fighting began on Sunday after the AA launched an offensive against junta outposts in Gawt, Kha Yan Maw Junction and Zee Kone villages. The outposts are near to the popular tourist destination of Ngaplai Beach – a 3-kilometer (2-mile) stretch of sand on the Indian Ocean.

“Armed clashes are intensifying near Mazin Airfield, Sapagyi and Gawt villages,” said a resident of Thandwe township who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke to RFA Burmese on condition of anonymity due to security concerns. 

“The AA conducted attacks on the heavy weapon units of the junta. The [military’s] aerial attacks also took place the whole night and [Monday] morning.”

Residents said junta troops had withdrawn from the three outposts and are being stationed near Mazin Airfield, where they have received reinforcements.

During the fighting, the military responded to AA attacks with its army, navy and air force, they said, and some civilians were injured by airstrikes and shelling. Buildings at the Jasmine Ngapali Resort at the beach were also damaged in the exchange.

About 2,000 residents of Gawt, Sapagyi, Ma Zin and Kone Tan villages were forced to flee to the town of Thandwe and other safe areas, they said.

Tense in Thandwe

Since ending a ceasefire in November that had been in place during the military’s February 2021 coup d’etat, the AA now occupies nine townships in Rakhine state, as well as Paletwa township in neighboring Chin state.

The AA and military have been fighting in Thandwe township since April 22. Armed conflict began about 32 kilometers (20 miles) north of the township seat and is now within 8 kilometers (5 miles) of the urban center.

As the fighting comes closer to the township seat, thousands of civilians have fled to other areas, said another resident of Thandwe, who also declined to be named. Flights to the area have been suspended since Sunday, he added.

“Flights have been suspended, and it is not known when they will resume,” he said. “Residents of urban areas have moved to Yangon and other safer areas, although some locals are still in the town.”



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