YANGON: At least two policemen were killed in coordinated attacks an unknown group mounted early Sunday morning on security posts in the impoverished Rakhine state along Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh, an official and police said.
The assaults hit three border posts around 1:30 am near Maungdaw in Rakhine and seized a number of weapons from the border posts.
Rakhine has been effectively split on Buddhist and Muslim religious grounds since bouts of communal violence tore through the state in 2012, killing scores and forcing tens of thousands to flee.
“According to initial information, two police officers were killed, two others were injured and six police are missing,” Tin Maung Swe, a senior official within Rakhine’s state government told AFP.
A police official in the capital Naypyidaw confirmed three places were attacked but declined to give further details.
The Muslim Rohingya are largely confined to camps and slapped with restrictions that rights groups have likened to apartheid.
Compared with the country’s civil war-ravaged eastern and northern border states, Rakhine does not boast a significant rebel military presence.
In the last few years the Arakan Army, a small Buddhist militia that wants an independent homeland in the state, have fought sporadic battles with the military.
In May armed attackers stormed a security post at a camp for Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh just across the border from Maungdaw. In that attack a Bangladeshi camp commander was shot dead and the assailants made off with weapons.
Any uptick in violence in Rakhine will be a major concern for the new civilian-led government of Aung San Suu Kyi. She has asked former UN chief Kofi Annan to head a commission tasked with trying to heal sectarian divisions in the state. The move was largely welcomed by Rohingya community leaders but drew ire from Buddhist nationalists.
Anti-Muslim sentiment still runs high in the impoverished region, fanned by hardline Buddhist nationalists who revile the Rohingya and are viscerally opposed to any move to grant them citizenship.