Myanmar junta orders evacuations around embattled state capital

By AFP
June 15, 2024
This photo shows a destroyed house and burned trees following fighting between Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army (AA) ethnic minority armed group in the Rakhine State. — AFP

YANGON: Myanmar´s junta has ordered thousands of people living outside a state capital threatened by ethnic rebels to leave their homes and head into the city, residents said on Friday.

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Sittwe city is one of the few holdouts for junta troops in western Rakhine state, where the military has lost swathes of territory to the Arakan Army (AA) in recent weeks.

The AA, which says it is fighting for autonomy for the state´s ethnic Rakhine population, has vowed to capture Sittwe, home to an India-backed deep sea port and around 200,000 people.

Residents of 15 villages around Sittwe were given five days to leave their homes and move to the state capital, a resident of one of the villages told AFP.

“The army threatened to shoot and kill if they found someone after the deadline” which expires on Saturday, she said, requesting anonymity due to fear of arrest.

A resident of Sittwe put the number of villages ordered to evacuate at around 10, saying that residents had been told “to move out for security reasons” by Saturday.

The villages were home to around 3,500 people, the Sittwe resident said, requesting anonymity.

They added the military had not arranged for temporary shelters in Sittwe.

“People have to move to their relatives´ homes from other villages,” they said.

Local media also reported the order to evacuate villages in the area. AFP was unable to reach a junta spokesman for comment.

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