The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported that a two-day “area clearance operation” uncovered a tunnel and home-made weapons. The military is in almost full control of Rakhine State and independent observers are not allowed to visit most areas where the subjugated Rohingya Muslim majority live.
The government publication showed items it said were seized from the Mayu mountains camp, supposedly run by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, including 20 black ski masks, gun powder and wooden rifles believed to have been used for training.
More than a million Muslim Rohingya live in Rakhine with most still sheltering in camps since they were burned from their homes in 2012 by their Buddhist neighbours, many of whom consider them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh or “Bengalis”.
Rohingya insurgents allegedly attacked guard posts on the Bangladesh border, killing nine police officers, on October 9 last year, provoking a brutal military crackdown in which hundreds were killed, more than 1,000 houses burned down and an estimated 75,000 people fled to Bangladesh.
The government accuses the militant group of murdering 34 civilians and kidnapping 22 others, mostly Rohingya civilians who collaborated with the authorities since the October attacks.
Last month the group released a statement saying it had never attacked or killed any civilians, accusing the authorities of releasing numerous “false news stories”.
“We do not commit any form of terrorism against any civilians regardless of their religious and ethnic origin as we do not subscribe to the notion of committing terrorism for our legitimate cause,” the group’s statement said.
“We assure the safety and well-being of all ethnic communities, their places of worship and properties in Arakan state,” it said, referring to the alternative name for the state.
The authorities claim the group is subsidised by foreign Islamist groups and some of its members have been trained in martial arts and the use of light weapons by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The military controls the three key ministries which dominate Rakhine State: defence, border security and home affairs, which gives it a grip on the judicial system.
The military keeps a firm grip on resource-rich Rakhine State. Picture credit: YouTube