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Myanmar’s Rakhine Conflict Takes Toll on Firefighters, Police

Rakhine state’s fire department in western Myanmar on Tuesday appealed to the Arakan Army to release firefighters detained as they traveled on a bus, days after suspected rebels took them and other passengers hostage near the town of Mrauk-U.

After a man in civilian clothing flagged down the bus to stop on the morning of Oct. 11, a group of 18 rebels dressed in sportswear emerged from a forest and stormed the vehicle, state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

The AA detained 18 firefighter recruits and the deputy station chief of the state Fire Services Department as they travelled on a bus from central Myanmar’s Mandalay region to Rakhine’s capital Sittwe after completing basic firefighting training in the town of Pyin Oo Lwin.

Rakhine authorities said the AA had taken another dozen passengers, but freed three bus workers along with the vehicle

AA spokesman Khine Thukha said the detainees are under investigation on suspicion that they are Myanmar Army soldiers, and that Arakan forces regard the Fire Services Department as the military’s reserve force...........................

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