The Union Government has a sovereign right to defend itself against terrorist acts, but the government would exercise “maximum restraint” in order to avoid collateral damage and casualties among innocent civilians, said National Security Adviser U Thaung Tun at a press conference in Yangon yesterday.
Violence in northern Rakhine state has driven thousands of ethnic Rakhine people to Buthidaung and Sittway, while women and children from the Muslim community have fled toward the Bangladesh border. The National Security Advisor called on all communities to cooperate with the government in its endeavours to restore peace and stability to the affected areas.
At the press conference, Union Minister for Home Affairs Lieutenant General Kyaw Swe clarified the situation in Rakhine, saying that the ongoing attacks by the extremist terrorists indicate their goal to create an Islamic State in the Maungtaw and Buthidaung area.
He also explained that the police have been taking the principal role to protect the population, pledging that the security forces are taking care to carry out their duties in keeping with their code of conduct and the law.
In ongoing attacks on Monday, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) extremist terrorists burnt down more than 2,300 houses, according to the statement released by the information committee of the government.
“ARSA extremist terrorists planted improvised explosive devices in the homes and set fire to the homes so that security forces would get injured when the IEDs exploded due to the fire,” said the statement.
There are challenges, especially providing health care to internally displaced people (IDPs), said Dr Win Myat Aye, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, who visited ethnic Rakhine people who fled their homes and are currently being sheltered at IDP camps.
“It is important to send food to them quickly. We need to provide health care to them. And we need to arrange to transport injured people to the hospital,” said the Union Minister in an exclusive interview with the Myanmar News Agency.
Daw Aye Aye Nyunt, a local resident of Mawyawady village, Maungtaw Township, said although the terrorists were dressed in black and hid their faces she knows that they are from nearby villagers. “I grew up with the various people in the region, so I can tell,” she said. “There have been many deaths and casualties in our neighboring villages too.”—GNLM