A ferry has stopped its operations on the Kaladan River after an artillery shell hit its boat in southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township during clashes between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army on December 10.
The boat was carrying passengers between Paletwa town and the village of Tawngpyo when it stopped at a jetty. It was then hit by the shell, killing two people and injuring five.
“Because of the recent incident, the passenger boat line has stopped its operation, but small private boats are traveling on the river,” boat operator Yaw Bar told Khonumthung News. “Currently, all of the passenger boats have stopped their operation. Nobody dares to travel on the river. Local people are traveling on small private boats in emergencies.”
Paletwa locals used to buy food and household items from Kyauktaw town in Rakhine State, transporting the goods by boat back to Chin State. Because of the dangers of travel on the Kaladan, people are worried there will be food shortages in Paletwa.
“People in the town will have difficulties, but people in remote areas have their rotating farms… We used to be able to bring 200 bags of rice in the past. Now we are allowed to carry only 20 bags each boat trip,” Yaw Bar said.
Locals working for civil society and community-based organizations have said that they are worried about their security while traveling in Paletwa Township.
“We have to work every day, so we need to travel around. We are on alert when we travel,” a local working one such group said.
The headman of Meezar village, outside of Paletwa town, said that they are afraid to go into the town because of the frequency of heavy weapons being fired around the area.
“Clashes frequently occur around Paletwa. We are on alert when we travel by boat. In recent days, nobody goes to Paletwa. We are also living in Meezar on alert,” headman Hawi Lau told Khonumthung News.
An artillery shell landed near a high school in Paletwa’s Myo Thit ward, near the area of the Burma Army’s Light Infantry Battalion 289, on December 8. The school has been closed ever since.