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Country Risk

Myanmar’s military ordered to ‘crush’ Rakhine rebels

10 January 2019
A Myanmar border guard policeman patrols a police station in Buthidaung on 7 January following attacks launched three days earlier by Arakan Army insurgents. Source: AFP/Getty Images

Following a sharp escalation of violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine State, an emergency session of the country's National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) has authorised the military (Tatmadaw) to reinforce deployments in the state and "crush" insurgents of the ethnic Rakhine Arakan Army (AA).

The NDSC convened in Naypyidaw on 7 January, three days after the AA - part of an alliance demanding autonomy for regions populated by ethnic minorities - launched co-ordinated assaults on four police posts in Buthidaung township near the country's border with Bangladesh. Coming after a surge of clashes in December across the entire north of the state, the attackers killed 13 police and overran at least one base.

Headed by President U Win Myint, the NDSC is Myanmar's top crisis-response body and brings together 10 other national leaders. They include the two vice-presidents; the armed forces chief and his deputy; the speakers of the upper and lower houses of parliament; serving generals heading the three security ministries of Defence, Border Affairs and Interior; and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, who, as State Counsellor, is also the de facto head of government.

Unusually, the session was expanded to include four other ministers as well as the chairman of the government's Peace Commission and the head of the military's intelligence wing: Military Security Affairs (MSA).

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