A third clash in less than a week took place between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (AA) at a location between Phar Wat Chaung village and Ngan Chaung (Muslim) village in Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township at about 11 p.m. on Monday, leaving two civilians dead, according to locals.
The fighting lasted about 20 minutes, with heavy artillery fire from both sides. A woman and a male driver were killed when a vehicle hit what is believed to have been a landmine while passing through the scene of the fighting, a Phar Wat Chaung village elder told DMG.
“The two civilians were killed in a landmine attack and the vehicle had the front tires popping out and the tires bulging,” the village elder added.
The female victim was identified as Daw Saw Khin Hla, a 50-year-old resident of Phar Wat Chaung village. She was a timber merchant transporting logs to Maungdaw on Monday night when her vehicle was hit. The driver, the other victim, was a resident of Ngan Chaung (Muslim) village, locals said.
Residents in the vicinity of the hostilities also fear for their lives as more people are being killed in the fighting. At present, locals are afraid to go outside the village, said a local woman from Phar Wat Chaung village.
“We could not sleep all night because of the fighting. When we heard the explosion, we thought it was a landmine blast, just like before. In the past, I heard explosions sometimes, so I thought it was a landmine blast. We were hiding under the house with our children during the fighting,” she added.
DMG attempts to contact officials from the Arakan Army and Myanmar military seeking comment on Monday’s clash are ongoing.
There have been almost no clashes between the military and Arakan Army in Arakan State for more than a year, as the two sides reached an informal ceasefire arrangement in November 2020. Prior to the fighting over the past few days, the lone instance of renewed hostilities took place in Maungdaw Township in November of last year, when the two sides briefly exchanged fire.
Military tensions in Maungdaw Township have escalated in recent days, with fighting first flaring on February 4. U Khaing Thukha, an AA spokesperson, has told DMG hostilities are likely to persist if the military continues to attack and send reinforcements to northern Arakan State.