Myanmar Junta Faces New Fronts as Ethnic Insurgent Groups Launch Coordinated Attacks

Mon Nov 13 2023
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NAYPYIDAW: The military junta in Myanmar is grappling with escalating challenges as ethnic minority insurgent groups launched coordinated attacks on security posts in the country. The clashes occurred on two new fronts, leading to thousands of people fleeing to neighbouring India in search of safety.

Since late October, three ethnic minority forces initiated a coordinated offensive, capturing towns and military posts, posing a significant test to Myanmar’s military junta that seized power in a coup in 2021. The Arakan Army (AA), one of the insurgent groups fighting for greater autonomy in Rakhine State, reported seizing posts in the Rathedaung and Minbya areas, about 200km apart.

Khine Thu Kha, the spokesman for the Arakan Army, confirmed the captures, stating, “We have conquered some security posts and fighting is continuing in other parts.” Reports from Rathedaung described gunfire before dawn on Monday followed by hours of artillery bombardment. Military forces were observed blocking entrances to the area and reinforcing administrative buildings.

Simultaneously, fighting erupted in Chin State, bordering India, where insurgents attacked two military camps. Approximately 5,000 people from Myanmar sought refuge in India’s Mizoram state, according to James Lalrinchhana, the deputy commissioner of a district on the Myanmar border.

Chin State, previously relatively peaceful, witnessed increased unrest following the 2021 coup, with residents taking up arms against the military administration. The latest clashes mark another setback for the junta, already grappling with armed opposition and widespread discontent over the coup and subsequent crackdown.

Rebellion in Myanmar

Myanmar’s military-installed president recently warned of the country breaking apart due to an inadequate response to the rebellion. The military frames its actions as a fight against “terrorists.” The ongoing offensive, initiated on October 27 in Shan State, has resulted in the seizure of towns and over 100 military posts near the Chinese border.

Urban centers in Sagaing region and conflicts in Kayah State, leading to the recent crash of a fighter jet, further highlight the junta’s vulnerabilities. The rebels claim responsibility for downing the aircraft, while the military attributes it to technical faults.

Richard Horsey, senior Myanmar Adviser for the Crisis Group, emphasized the junta’s challenges in managing multiple fronts, stating, “If combat persists, it will open a significant new front for the regime, which is already overstretched. It will be hard for the regime to focus their efforts across all fronts.”

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