Amid rumors about boats with undocumented nationals coming to shore, and countrywide warnings of terrorist plots, Mon State authorities have attempted to reassure the public, pledging that all security precautions are being taken – and that no such boats have washed up.
Mon State Minister of Security and Border Affairs Colonel Win Naing Oo said at a September 7 press conference that joint security teams have been beefed up in Mon and Kayin (Karen) states, and in Bago and the Tanintharyi regions to monitor land and water entry points.
“Security arrangements have been made to prevent unwanted incidents that could breach security and [lead to] issues from Rakhine State spreading into our state,” he said. He added that rumors circulating about boats entering Bilu Island in Chaungzone township were not true.
On September 5, the office of the Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief issued a warning that commercial and political hubs like Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay and Mawlamyine could be targeted by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a group the government has declared an “extremist terrorist” organization. Ongoing fighting between ARSA and the Tatmadaw has been restricted to northern Rakhine State. Violence flared there after ARSA staged a coordinated, lethal attack against security posts on August 25. Over 17,000 people have since been evacuated from the conflict area according to the government, while an additional over 146,000 people have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, according to UN estimates.
“We have already made security arrangements. We have increased the security by 100 percent. All forces have been alerted,” Mon State Chief Minister U Aye Zan said at a separate, September 6 press conference.
Township, ward, and village-level administrators have been instructed to prepare and submit security plans, according to Ye township administrator U Tin Nyunt.
“Unusual incidents need to be reported every hour. Up-to-date reports must be submitted if there are any significant [incidents],” he said.
A ban against firecrackers will also be observed, according to Ye township police officials.