11 July 2024

Guwahati, India – Nearly 300 Myanmar soldiers crossed the border into India to flee an advance by armed insurgents fighting the country’s junta, an Indian paramilitary officer told AFP on Friday. 

Clashes have rocked parts of Myanmar near the Indian border since the Arakan Army (AA) attacked security forces in November, ending a ceasefire that had largely held since a 2021 military coup.

This week, the group said it had taken over the major town of Paletwa and six military bases along the border of India’s Mizoram state, where the soldiers had crossed on Wednesday.

A total of 276 troops carrying their arms and ammunition arrived at Bondukbangsora village, an officer from the Assam Rifles paramilitary force, who declined to give a name, told AFP.

“We have given them shelter at our camp,” he said, adding that the arriving soldiers were “given all the support they require”.

The officer said that his unit was collecting biometric data from the soldiers and had sought approval from the defence ministry in New Delhi to return them to Myanmar.

Hundreds of other Myanmar troops have fled to India to escape fighting since the ceasefire ended in November, according to local media reports.

Two Myanmar military aircraft arrived in Aizawl, the Mizoram state capital, to collect and repatriate soldiers who retreated from the conflict.

In October, an alliance of the AA and two other ethnic minority armed groups launched a joint offensive across Myanmar’s northern Shan state, capturing towns and seizing vital trade hubs on the China border.

Last week, the alliance announced a China-mediated ceasefire in Shan state after months of conflict that posed the biggest threat to the junta since it seized power.

The agreement does not apply to areas near the Indian border where fighting between the military and insurgents has raged on.

Agence France-Presse