MANDALAY, Myanmar — When the ferry pushed off from a dilapidated pier in western Myanmar, few of the passengers could have predicted how dangerous the journey would turn out. Later on Saturday, along a riverbank dotted with mangroves, a rebel group abducted dozens of soldiers and government workers from the ferry at gunpoint. That drew a risky rescue attempt by army helicopters, which swooped in to try to free the hostages as their captors then spirited them away in three separate boats. Gunfire erupted on both sides, and the army later said it had rescued 14 of the 58 hostages. The rebels said some were killed by helicopter fire, and they were keeping the survivors for “further investigation.” The drama unfolded in a rural section of Rakhine State, a strip of land on the country’s west coast where Myanmar’s army, known as the Tatmadaw, staged a brutal ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in 2017. The scale of the abduction suggests that the rebel group, The Arakan Army — a guerrilla force from the Buddhist Rakhine ethnic group that makes up most of the state’s population — is using increasingly brazen tactics to press its demand for independence. “The war in… Read full this story
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