Security forces of Myanmar said on Monday that they managed to rescue 14 people abducted by the Arakan Army rebels in Rakhine state with the help of armed helicopters. Myanmar’s information ministry said, in a statement, said that some people were abducted by the Arakan Army, an armed wing of the United League of Arakan (ULA). The seized people included Tatmadaw personnel, police officers, service personnel, and civilians onboard Shwenadi Watercraft en route from Sittway to Buthidaung near Yemyat village on October 26.
According to the Ministry of Information, the Arakan Army opened fire at the helicopter which was used to transport security forces to the nearest site of the abduction for the rescue operation. The insurgents failed to shoot it down but it hit the body of the helicopter and the pilot got injured. Later, an armed helicopter supported in carrying the security forces to complete the mission.
“Tatmadaw’s armed helicopter fired warning shots as it was also hit by the weapons of AA armed group,” said the Ministry. During the rescue operation, Tatmadaw (air) fired warning shots and the security forces on the ground helped 14 people to flee from the Arakan Army. Ministry said that a few abductees still remain in their clutches and the Tatmadaw columns are trying for their release. Earlier, the Arakan Army had claimed that many were left dead after they attacked boats carrying soldiers and police.
The Arakan Army was established in 2009 by ethnic Rakhine Buddhists with an objective to seek greater autonomy from the central government. The rebel group wants self-determination for the multi-ethnic Arakanese population. The Army is currently led by Commander in chief Twan Mrat Naing. In January 2019, around 300 members of the Arakan Army had launched a bloody attack on four border police outposts in which 13 members of Border Guard Police (BGP) were killed. In March as well, they attacked Yoe-ta-yoke Police Station, reportedly killing nine policemen.