The latest clash in western Myanmar between the Arakan Army and junta troops drove 20,000 people from their homes, residents told Radio Free Asia. After the ethnic armed group seized a police station in Rakhine state Thursday morning, junta forces retaliated with airstrikes.
The military regime also brought in navy ships, one Pauktaw resident said. Gunfire continued until Thursday afternoon, when locals began to leave en masse.
“I am not sure whether all the residents could get out of the city,” he said, asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. “I think parts of the city are blocked as [junta troops] are shooting from both air and sea.”
Two warships traveling along the Kaladan River fired more than 10 shots with heavy weapons.
The ships continued to Pauktaw along the Kwe Ku River as a helicopter from Sittwe city continued firing.
“Two of three navy ships docked and one remained on the river. Now the helicopter is hovering and shooting,” the Pauktaw resident said. “Residents from the city are fleeing to nearby places.”
The Pauktaw police station, previously under control of the junta, was seized by the Arakan Army, said another Pauktaw resident, but the city continued to be attacked by the junta airforce and navy.
“The residents from the city are fleeing and [junta soldiers] are shooting. I know there is damage and that there have been casualties, but we are still hiding,” he told RFA, asking to remain anonymous.
The number of casualties is not yet known. Pauktaw’s residents escaped on foot, by cars and on motorcycles, according to a video uploaded to Facebook on Thursday afternoon.
The junta has yet to release any information on the incidents in Pauktaw. RFA called Rakhine state’s junta spokesperson Hla Thein, but he did not answer the phone.
Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.