Military officials confirmed that fighting between troops and Arakan Army (AA) rebels near Mrauk-U (Rakhine state) resulted in at least six civilian casualties as of Tuesday, March 19. According to a government spokesperson, AA rebels ambushed government troops, prompting the military to deploy additional troops to Mrauk-U on Monday, March 18. Local reports also claim that loud explosions and gunfire were witnessed outside the city on Sunday, March 17. Fighting is expected to continue in the coming weeks, along with the displacement of civilians and possible kidnappings.
Violence resumed in early December 2018 between Rakhine separatists and the military. Some 2500 people have been displaced due to the violence. The Arakan Army seeks greater autonomy for Buddhists in Rakhine state.
Clashes have reportedly intensified near Mrauk-U in recent weeks, with the military confirming the death of an army major during clashes in late February. The AA also claimed it had killed at least seven other soldiers in Paletwa (Chin state), Mrauk-U, and Kyuaktaw (Rakhine state) on February 23.
Individuals in Rakhine state are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for militant and military activity, 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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