The Burmese army is now using many local people from the border area as military porters in an operation against an insurgent group on the western Burmese border, report local people who fled to Bangladesh to avoid being forced into porterage.

The army operation started on 25 March in the western border area between Pelatwa and Buthidaung Townships after a group of about 25 armed insurgents entered the western region of Arakan State to carry out their activities under the cover of deep forest.

During the operation, many local villagers from several villages including Letpanwa, Tookpi, Sitaung, and Pyin Zaw have been used as military porters by army personnel to carry army materials and food from one location to another along the border.

A source said at least five army battalions are participating in the operation – LB 20, LB 34, LIB 289, LIB 354, and LIB 376.

Another report said the Burmese army is now trying to block all the border points along the Burma-Bangladesh border between northern Buthidaung Township and southern Pelatwa Township in Chin State, in efforts to trap and demolish the insurgent group inside Burma before they can escape to their hideout.

The villager said he heard that a group of Arakan Liberation Army has entered into the north of Buthidaung and Kyauktaw Townships recently to ambush the Burmese army patrol team near the border.