Myanmar army ‘kills 13’ in counterattacks on Rakhine rebels

From left: Myanmar Army Major Generals Tun Tun Nyi, Soe Naing Oo and Major General Zaw Min Tun during a rare military press conference in Naypyidaw on Friday, January 18. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2019
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Myanmar army ‘kills 13’ in counterattacks on Rakhine rebels

  • Rakhine has seen new levels of violence in recent weeks between the Arakan insurgents fighting for greater autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and security forces
  • ‘We got 13 dead bodies of enemies and seized three weapons’

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar: Myanmar’s army said Friday it killed 13 ethnic Rakhine fighters in counterstrikes after the well-armed group carried out deadly attacks on police posts earlier this month.
Rakhine state has seen new levels of violence in recent weeks between the Arakan Army (AA) — insurgents fighting for greater autonomy for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists — and security forces.
Many of the battles are taking place in the same region from which more than 720,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh after August 2017 when the army launched a crackdown the UN deemed ethnic cleansing.
The AA are a more formidable force than the fighters claiming to represent the Rohingya and have inflicted historically higher death tolls on the military.
On January 4, also Myanmar’s independence day, the AA launched pre-dawn raids that killed 13 police officers and wounded nine before the army stepped in, setting off violence that has displaced thousands.
But the army hit back, killing the same number of AA rebels in total in operations from January 5-16.
“We got 13 dead bodies of enemies and seized three weapons,” Major General Tun Tun Nyi said in a rare press conference in the capital Naypyidaw.
“Some officers and soldiers from our side were killed,” he added, without releasing the figures.
Myanmar’s military almost never provides statistics on casualties suffered in fighting against the country’s myriad ethnic armed groups.
The army called a temporary cease-fire against different insurgents in northern Myanmar last month but Rakhine state was excluded from the move because of the AA and the Rohingya militant group, which is called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
The troubled state is a complex patchwork of Rakhine, Rohingya, and other ethnic minorities that intercommunal violence has largely driven apart.
Most of the Rohingya in the northern part of the state have been pushed into Bangladesh, where they refuse to return to Myanmar without guarantees of safety and citizenship.
The United Nations has called for Myanmar’s top generals to be investigated for genocide as a result of the operations but they reject the accusation.
The fighting with AA rebels complicates an already fraught repatriation process for the Rohingya.
Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun blamed the AA insurgents for the police post attacks earlier this month and accused them of “stabbing from the back.”


Indian air force planes collide in air show rehearsal, one pilot dead

Updated 50 min 12 sec ago
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Indian air force planes collide in air show rehearsal, one pilot dead

  • The crash happened next to Yelahanka Air Force Base
  • Another crash earlier this month killed two pilots in Bengaluru

BENGALURU: Two Indian Air Force planes collided in mid-air in the southern state of Karnataka on Tuesday while rehearsing an aerobatic show, killing one pilot and injuring two others, a senior police official said.
“One Indian Air Force pilot has unfortunately lost his life. Two others were injured and shifted to hospital, but are said to be out of danger,” said M.N. Reddi, director general of police in Karnataka.
The defense ministry confirmed that two Hawk aircraft of the Surya Kiran Aerobatic Display Team had crashed near the Yelahanka Air Force Base.
The aerobatic team was scheduled to perform at Aero India 2019, a five-day airshow expected to draw nearly 500 Indian and foreign aviation firms and defense contractors.
It was the second deadly accident involving Indian Air Force aircraft this month. A Mirage 2000 trainer crashed in the southern city of Bengaluru on Feb. 1, killing two pilots.