The Myanmar army and navy have been regularly conducting live fire exercises involving heavy guns in Taungup, Kyaukphyu, and Manaung townships, as well as Sane town in southern Arakan State, according to local residents.
A junta base near Tharagu village in Taungup Township fired artillery on Wednesday, said residents from nearby villages.
Artillery shell fire was also reported coming from Danyawaddy naval base near Thitpoketaung village in Kyaukphyu Township on Tuesday morning.
“It fired at around 8 a.m. I heard two shells. They opened fire at Mt. Panaungnargyi at the opposite bank,” said a resident of Thipoketaung village.
The shelling temporarily halted traffic along the Thanzit River in Kyaukphyu Township.
Local residents said they heard at least 10 artillery shots from Taung Maw Oo naval base, some three miles from Sane town in Kyaukphyu Township, at around 9 a.m. on Monday.
“Relevant administrators had notified us about the test-fire. So, there was no traffic in the river [at the time of the exercise]. But people had concerns as they fired artillery,” said a resident of Sane town.
A junta naval base near Manaung Island also carried out naval exercises on September 27 and 28, firing artillery.
The regime has regularly carried out live fire exercises since it reached a ceasefire with the Arakan Army (AA) in November of last year. A naval exercise was also reported near the Mayu lighthouse in the west of Sittwe on September 24.
Locals have expressed concern about the junta’s military drills during the ceasefire.
“The regime reportedly said the firing was part of the maintenance process. But some are of the view that the regime wanted to display its strength to the AA by doing so. It intends to warn the AA that it can shell it anytime,” said political activist Ko Ne Soe Khaing from Kyaukphyu.
The regime has reportedly been hoarding food and reinforcing its bases in towns in Arakan State whereas the AA is consolidating its control over rural parts of the state.