State media has reported the Arakan Army has had one of its arms caches raided. The raid came about after police searched a suspicious looking vehicle parked with its lights and engine on near Victor International School in Tamwe Township, Yangon Region, on 6 February.
According to the local police station, the search led to the discovery of a 9mm pistol and 14 bullets from the man in the car, who was later identified as a lieutenant colonel in the Arakan Army (AA) named Aung Myat Kyaw.
According to the report, further investigation revealed that he rented a house together with Wai Tha Tun in North Dagon Township. The warranted search of the house resulted in the confiscation of 42 pieces of military equipment, 80 camouflage backpacks, 70 army-green bags and 60 straps, five pairs of night-vision binoculars, 21 walkie-talkies, nine compasses, one GPS device, 89 army-green groundsheets, plastic explosives and a vehicle licence plate.
After arresting Wai Tha Tun in North Okkalapa Township, the North Dagon Township police station filed charges against him together with Aung Myat Kyaw. The search of Wai Tha Tun’s house in North Okkalapa led to the seizure of 330,800 stimulant pills, for which they were also charged.
On 10 February, explosive materials, including nine AK cartridges, thousands of rounds of heavy machine gun ammunition, dynamite, smoke bombs and detonators were found in the house the two men rented six months ago in Hlaingthaya Township.
Further investigations led to the exposure of six RPG launchers and shells, 70 cartridges, 45 TNT blocks, 254 detonators, two pairs of binoculars and other explosive materials hidden in a building near the prawn farm belonging to the Arakan Army in Rambre Township, Rakhine State.
The culprits admitted that they had transported weapons and ammunitions to Sittwe 14 times in the past two years.
Lt-Col Aung Myat Kyaw of the Arakan Army served under Brig-Gen Tun Myat Naing, chief of staff of the Arakan Army. The AA’s chief of staff was reported to have married the daughter of U San Kyaw Hla of the Arakan National Party.
The culprits admitted that the Arakan Army is involved in illegal drug dealings in order to purchase weapons.
Speaking to the Irrawaddy, Arakan Army spokesperson Khine Thu Kha acknowledged that both men were Arakan Army operatives. He described the weapons seizures as “minor” and claimed that the Arakan Army had the full support of all Arakanese.
That said, the spokesman described allegations related to the confiscation of narcotics as false and made intentionally to “damage the dignity” of the Arakan Army and sow mistrust between the armed group and Arakanese citizens.