Questionable Motives – Myanmar Security Operations in Rakhine State

51a89393-ec70-41af-bb76-85dd51674f9eOn 9 October, nine police officers were killed and five injured during coordinated ambushes in Maungdaw and Rethadaung Townships in Rakhine state, Myanmar. The night time attacks hit three Border Police posts on the border with Bangladesh. Police said the attackers were armed with knives and “ginkali”, a homemade slingshot that fires iron bolts. According to reports, they were able to steal more than 50 guns and 10,000 bullets from the border posts.[i] Speaking at a press conference the next day Police Maj-Gen Zaw Win, Chief of the Myanmar Police Force, said that the bodies of eight attackers were found. Two attackers were captured alive and one home-made pistol was seized along with two bullets and one cartridge of bullets.[ii]

It was unclear what organisation could mount such coordinated attacks, however, suspicion fell on the Muslim Rohingya, a long-persecuted minority that is dominant in the two townships. Shortly after the attacks, Maj-Gen Zaw Win was quoted as saying,

According to our force members who are working on this case, those who attacked and raided were shouting that they were Rohinghyas, [iii]

Meanwhile, Tin Maung Swe, a senior official within Rakhine’s state government, told AFP that those behind the ambushes were “RSO insurgents”, a reference to the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation.[iv]

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[i] ‘Nine Myanmar police killed in attack on Bangladesh border’, AFP, 10 October 2016

[ii] ‘Nine policemen killed, five injured, one missing in border attacks’, Myanmar News Agency, 10 October 2016

[iii] ‘Nine Myanmar police killed in attack on Bangladesh border’, AFP, 10 October 2016

[iv] Ibid.