Myanmar troops patrol Sittwe - the capital of Rakhine state (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - The fighting between the Myanmar army and ethnic Rakhine rebels has escalated in the western state's temple-studded town of Mrauk U, said military spokesman Colonel Win Zaw Oo.

The Arakan Army (AA), a group that claims to represent the state's ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and is vying for more autonomy, has killed at least 22 police officers since fighting ramped up in January.

Thousands of troops have been deployed to try to quell the spreading unrest. The government said dozens of rebels have been killed.

The military has vowed to crush the rebel group, which formed exactly 10 years ago and enjoys widespread support from many ethnic Rakhine.

Some 26,000 people have been forced from their homes due to the fighting across Rakhine and in neighbouring areas of Chin state while aid groups estimate some 95,000 people are affected by new restrictions on movement.-VNA