Authorities reported on Sunday, October 13, that around 19 suspected Arakan Army fighters abducted 31 passengers near the township of Mrauk U (Rakhine state) on the morning (local time) of Friday, October 11. According to authorities, passengers were mostly off-duty firemen and construction workers travelling from Mandalay to the Rakhine state capital of Sittwe. Three of them, including the driver, were released. The other passengers' whereabouts remain unknown as of Monday, October 14; search operations are ongoing in the area.
Further attacks and kidnappings are possible in the region over the near term.
Violence resumed in early December 2018 between Rakhine separatists and the military. The Arakan Army seeks greater autonomy for Buddhists in Rakhine state. According to the Myanmar office of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about 7500 displaced people are scattered across 29 sites in Rakhine due to the violence and 730,000 people in neighboring Bangladesh.
Individuals in Rakhine state are advised to monitor developments to the situation, report suspicious objects and behavior to police, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
Travelers are advised to avoid all but essential travel to Rakhine state, except the southern townships of Kyaukpyu, Ramree, Munaung, Toungup, Thandwe (including the tourist resort of Ngapali), and Gwa.
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