Villagers flee clash between Arakan and Burma armies in Chin State
01 April 2015 — Hundreds of people from a village identified as Pyin-so in Paletwa Township, Chin State have fled from a fire exchange between the Arakan Army and Burma Army around midnight on 29 March.
The villagers are taking refuge in nearby villages following the hours-long fighting between soldiers from the Arakan Army Tactical Unit No. 5 and the Burma Army Infantry Battalion No. 289.
U Aung (name changed for security reason), a village leader, told the Chin Human Rights Organization: “We [villagers] ran away to other villages and farms as more Burma Army soldiers from Paletwa arrived in our village. We are worried that the fighting will continue.”
The leader, who is currently taking shelter in Paletwa, said that the villagers were afraid of returning while the soldiers remained in their village.
A Pyin-so resident said on condition of anonymity to the CHRO that the fighting had broken out mainly because the Burma Army soldiers stationed in his village had captured an Arakan Army soldier, three days before the clash.
“Therefore, the Arakan Army attacked the Burma Army in revenge for the capture,” added the villager.
Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Nyo Tun Aung, AA deputy commander-in-chief, said in a Narinjara interview that two bodies – a captain and another a private, both from the Burma Army – were recovered, and that they arrested two soldiers.
Leader U Aung said that there was always a possibility of clashes if soldiers remained in the village, adding: “We all fear our village would be destroyed and many villagers don’t dare to do farm. We want soldiers to stay outside of the village, not inside the village.”
Pyin-so, about three hours’ walk to the Bangladeshi border and situated in the west of Paletwa town, is a Chin village of 75 households with 472 residents.
The Arakan Army was formed in 2008, initially based in Laiza, Kachin State, alongside the Kachin Independence Army, and has been active in the Bangladesh-Burma area for months, according to sources.#