The military council has conducted extensive searches for members of the armed resistance in Thandwe Township, Arakan State, under the pretext of the presence of the People’s Defense Forces (PDF), locals report.
On the morning of 15 September, three military trucks carrying about 60 soldiers from Thandwe arrived in Payit and Yay Kaung Ywar Haung villages, located about 30 miles from Thandwe, and searched the surrounding forests and areas for PDF members, according to locals.
One local, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “They came via the 5 Mile road near the hydroelectric power plant. About 60 fully armed soldiers in three military vehicles arrived at Payit (the former village of Yay Kauk), which is about 30 miles from Thandwe. They said they were searching for PDF members. They have been patrolling the forested areas in ambush since the morning of 15 September. I don’t know what they are up to.”
As the military council troops continue their night patrols in the forested areas, locals suspect that they are also looking for Arakan Army (AA) members in the Thandwe area under the pretext of the PDF.
Moreover, since many administrative activities in northern Rakhine State are now under the control of the Arakan Army, the military council may be trying to maintain control over the southern regions, locals say.
As military council troops continue to patrol, locals who rely on the forest for their livelihoods have had to suspend their activities and can no longer enter the forested areas.
“We can no longer forage in the forests because they patrol the area. Farmers have had to stop working. We don’t know how long this will last,” said a Thandwe resident.
In recent days, military council troops have been conducting stricter checks at the town gates of Thandwe and thoroughly inspecting vehicles.
In Thandwe Township and several other towns in Arakan State, some female activists and locals were sentenced to long prison terms by the military council last year for allegedly having links to and financially supporting the PDF, according to locals.
Sent by Narinjara.