Bangladesh News Tensions At Bangladesh-Myanmar Border

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Bangladesh Army has asked Myanmar Army to maintain more caution in conducting its operations along the common border areas.

A three-member delegation of Myanmar Army, led by Lt Gen Phone Myat, Command Bureau of Special Operation, called on Bangladesh Army Chief General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed at the Army Headquarters on 26 October, according to a press release of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) issued on Thursday night.

The delegation highlighted the ongoing security situation in Myanmar during the visit apart from exchanging courtesies. It said they are trying to keep their country's peace and discipline under control while maintaining mutual friendship with Bangladesh.

The army chiefs discussed the development of military relations between the two countries, joint discussions of high-ranking army officers on various issues, exchange of training, joint disaster management, exchange of relevant information and urged to work together to ensure regional security.

The Bangladesh army chief said displaced Myanmar citizens are a regional problem and stressed the rapid return of the Rohingyas to Myanmar in order to remove the security risks caused by accommodating this population in Bangladesh.

The Myanmar representative expressed his interest in solving bilateral issues through friendship and greater communication with Bangladesh.

Later the delegation paid a courtesy call on Chief of General Staff (CGS) of Bangladesh Army Ataul Hakim Sarwar Hasan.

He reminded them to remain cautious in conducting operations at border area and said militants do not work for any country.

In the face of continuous gunfire and mortar shelling inside Myanmar close to the Bangladesh border for six hours after a week's lull on October 22, local authorities evacuated 30 families in Dochari and Ghumdhum unions of Naikhongchhari upazila to safety.

The Arakan Army, an ethnic armed organisation based in Rakhine state, had stopped taking up positions near the border for a long time, instead operating deep inside Myanmar. But over the past week, the Arakan Army has positioned itself closer to the border.

As the fighting in Rakhine has escalated, so has the scale and frequency of these incidents along the border. Since September 16, two Bangladeshi youths have lost limbs stepping on landmines laid by the Tatmadaw dangerously close to the international border.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Myanmar Ambassador to Bangladesh Aung Kyaw Moe several times since August and he "acknowledged" the firing of multiple mortar shells into Bangladesh territory.

The envoy, however, tried to deflect blame by asserting that the insurgents were engaged in fighting, firing heavy artillery and mortars, some of which landed inside Bangladesh territory.

 

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An officer of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence was killed and a member of the Rapid Action Battalion was injured in a clash between ‘drugs smugglers’ and law enforcers in Tombru bordering area in Bandarban district on Monday.

A release issued by the Inter Services Public Relation Directorate on Tuesday said that the clash occurred when the members of the DGFI and the RAB conducted a joint anti-drug drive in Tombru bordering area.

The release did not mention the names and positions of the victim officers but said that the deceased DGFI officer was an officer of the Bangladesh Air Force.

‘During the clash with drug smugglers, an on-duty DGFI officer (Bangladesh Air Force officer) embraced martyrdom by sacrificing his life for the country and a RAB member was injured,’ read the release.

 

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The home ministry has decided to use drones to monitor the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

A state-of-the-art drone has been provided to the Coast Guard's St Martin station and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) are also being provided with the drones, the home ministry said.

The ministry informed of the development at a meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs ministry in Parliament.

The committee had earlier examined whether drones could be used to monitor the situation in the Bangladesh-Myanmar border area and recommended taking necessary measures.

At the meeting today, the home ministry officials said necessary measures are underway to provide drones to Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) for border surveillance and overall capacity building of BGB.

They also informed that Bangladesh Coast Guard has purchased two sophisticated and advanced drones in June this year.

Currently, one of its drones is deployed at Bhasan Char and another at Coast Guard Station at Saint Martin to monitor the situation along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

When asked about this, Benazir Ahmed, chief of the parliamentary watchdog, said, "We recommended monitoring the border with drones. Drone surveillance is ongoing in areas where Rohingya refugees live, including Bhasan Char. BGB said surveillance will be done using drones in the border area."

 

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Around 200 Rohingya families have taken shelter in two schools in Tumbru following a fire in the Rohingya refugee camp near Tumbru border of Bandarban amid continuous gunfights at the zero line, according to a local public representative.

A fire broke out in the Rohingya camp in Naikhongchhari upazila of Bandarban on Wednesday evening after gunshots being fired throughout the day between two armed organisations of the Rohingyas at the zero line of the Tumbru border, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) and the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO).

Gunshots were also heard on Thursday morning which raised fear among the minds of residents of the area, Member of Ghumdhum Union Parishad's ward number 3 Md Alam told The Business Standard on Thursday afternoon.

He also said that approximately 200 families, including fire-affected families and some innocent Rohingya families, have taken shelter at Tumbru Government Primary School and Tumbru Junior High School. Some families also sporadically left for Myanmar on Wednesday night, he added.

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) members have intensified patrolling across the border area, added the UP member.

It is feared that hundreds of houses in the Rohingya camp near the zero line of Konapara on the Tumbru border have been destroyed by the fire on Wednesday.

The cause of the fire has not been ascertained yet and the exact number of families who have taken shelter in the schools could not be calculated within the short period of time, said Naikhongchhari Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Romen Sharma.

Naikhongchhari Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Romen Sharma told The Business Standard on Thursday morning, "Some families went to the schools. We have talked to higher authorities about the next step. However, no decision has been taken yet."

BGB-34 Battalion Captain Lt Colonel Mohammad Saiful Islam Chowdhury was unavailable for comment.

Previously, on Wednesday, one person was killed and injured another as shots were fired between the two armed groups of Myanmar near the Rohingya camp alongside the zero line of Tumbru border of Ghumdhum in Naikhongchhari upazila of Bandarban, according to Rohingyas living at the camp.

Rohingya community leader living at the camp, Dil Mohammad, said, "A clash broke out in the morning between members of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) around 6am Wednesday near Konarpara zero line in Naikhongchhari. Later, the clash spread inside the Rohingya camp as well. Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) also opened fire to control the situation."

 

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Several underground tunnels have been reportedly found at the no-man’s land across the Bangladesh-Myanmar border which were allegedly used by a separatist armed group of Myanmar, according to Rohingya and local sources.

“ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) used those tunnels and even detained people after kidnapping them,” a Rohingya in the no man’s land at Tambru border in Bangladesh’s southeastern sub-district of Naikhongchari, Bandarban, told Anadolu, preferring not to disclose his name.

He added that these tunnels have access to Myanmar’s territory and were used by the ARSA members.

Speaking to Anadolu, the head of Naikhongchhari sub-district administration, Romen Sharma, said that according to border law, they have no scope to send the border forces to check the no-man’s land between two countries.

“We have also come to know from the media reports that there are some underground tunnels in the no-man’s land where the Rohingya makeshift tents were located earlier,” Sharma said, neither denying nor confirming the existence of these tunnels.

A local private television channel in Bangladesh, Channel 24, interviewed two ARSA members, without mentioning their names, about these tunnels.

“There were a total of seven such underground tunnels. Of which, one was used by ARSA chief Ataullah and another one was used by second-in-command Ustad Khaled. The other tunnels were used for making weapons and other purposes. Those tunnels were made in such a way that they can easily go into Myanmar through it,” the report quoted the ARSA members as claiming.

The tunnels came to light on Jan. 18 after a fire broke out in the Rohingya settlement and rapidly burned down all makeshift tents during an alleged day-long fight between two armed groups inside Myanmar across the zero line.

Nearly 5,000 persecuted Rohingya refugees live in makeshift tents in this no-man’s land for nearly six years after fleeing a brutal military crackdown in their home country of Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017.

Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.2 million Rohingya. Several attempts by Bangladesh and international communities for peaceful repatriation of Rohingya to their motherland of Myanmar have failed due to concerns over safety, dignity, and rights.

 

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People living near the Ghumdhum border of Bangladesh are passing days in fear as shelling continues on the Myanmar side.

Despite there being no casualties in Bangladesh, primary schools along the Ghumdhum border were closed today (29 January), confirmed Triratan Chakma, primary education officer of Naikhongchkari upazila.

He said, Baish Phari Government Primary School, Bhaja Bania Government Primary School, Tumbru Government Primary School, Paschim Kul Tumbru Government Primary School and Dakshin Ghumdhum Government Primary School were kept closed.

After a few days' gap, sounds of gunshots were once again being heard on the Ghumdhum-Tumbru border since Saturday, confirmed Chairman of Ghumdhum Union Jahangir Aziz.

UP member of Ghumdhum Union Md Anwar Hossain said gunfire has been heard intermittently since morning in Tumbru West Kul, Ward-1 of Ghumdhum Union, bordering Pillar-33.

Helicopters were also seen flying near the border on the Myanmar side at the Ukhiya-Teknaf border on Monday morning.

Chairman of Huaikang Union Parishad Noor Ahmad Anwari said the shelling on the other side of the border has created panic among the people living near the border.

Ukhiya Palangkhali Union Parishad Chairman M Gafur Uddin said that panic is spreading in the area due to the ongoing firing between Myanmar's army and rebels near the Anjuman Para border of Palangkhali.

Bangladesh's security forces along the Myanmar border remain alert amid growing tensions in the neighbouring country, Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud said on Saturday.

He said tensions prevailed in Myanmar with brief pauses and Bangladesh forces have remained alert from much earlier.

The foreign minister said such a tense situation would certainly have a negative impact on the efforts to repatriate Rohingyas to their place of origin in Myanmar.


At least 106 members of Myanmar's Border Guard Police (BGP) fled to Bangladesh and took refuge in a Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) outpost in Turmbru, Bandarban after being attacked by rebels.

Shariful Islam, public relations officer of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), said 106 BGP members have so far entered Bangladesh through Tumbru border in Naikhangchhari upazila of Bandarban district with arms and ammunition due to the ongoing clashes inside Myanmar.

These people have been taken to safety after the weapons they carried with them were deposited in the Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) cache, he said.

The injured BGP men are undergoing treatment in different hospitals in Cox's Bazar district.

Rebel factions in Arakan state have engaged in clashes with Myanmar's military junta since Saturday (3 February), primarily over the control of a border camp. The ongoing conflict has been marked by persistent gunfire, mortar shells, and rocket explosions.

Officials have reported intense fighting, and there are concerns about the use of army helicopters strafing rebel fighters, heightening worries of substantial casualties.

International media reports suggested several more insurgent groups, some forming alliances among them, are confronting the government army in several parts of Myanmar.

Meanwhile, two people were killed this afternoon after heavy mortar shells reportedly fired from Myanmar landed and exploded inside Bangladesh on the Ghumdum border in Bandarban.

Bangladesh's border with Myanmar stretches 271.0 kilometers (168.4 miles), from the tri-point with India in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south.


Amid the ongoing conflict in Myanmar, another 116 injured members of Myanmar's Border Guard Police (BGP), army, customs and civilians today fled to Bangladesh through the border in Cox's Bazar's Palongkhali union for refuge after being attacked by rebels, said the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).

With this, the total number of fleeing members of Myanmar BGP, customs, army and civilians in Bangladesh this week stands at 264.

"So far, 264 members of Myanmar BGP, army, customs and civilians have entered Bangladesh with arms and ammunition due to the ongoing clashes inside Myanmar," said BGB HQ Public Relations Officer Shariful Islam.

Of them, 113 entered through the border in Turmbru, Bandarban, 114 entered through the Palongkhali upazila area of Cox's Bazar's Ukhiya, and two entered from the border around Ghumdhum and Teknaf.

"They have been taken to safety after they surrendered their weapons to the BGB," he added.

The injured Myanmar border guard personnel are undergoing treatment in different hospitals in Cox's Bazar district, the BGB official added.

Rebel factions in Arakan state have engaged in clashes with Myanmar's military junta since Saturday (3 February), primarily over the control of a border camp.

Persistent gunfire, mortar shells, and rocket explosions have marked the ongoing conflict.

Bangladeshis living in the border area have reported intense fighting, and there are concerns about the use of army helicopters strafing rebel fighters, heightening worries of substantial casualties.

International media reports suggested several more insurgent groups, some forming alliances among them, are confronting the government army in several parts of Myanmar.

Meanwhile, two people were killed inside the Bangladesh border last afternoon after heavy mortar shells reportedly fired from Myanmar landed and exploded inside the Ghumdum border in Bandarban.

Among the Myanmar border guard personnel who crossed the border into Bangladesh to take refuge, 4 who had bullet injuries, were admitted to Chattogram Medical College Hospital (CMCH) on Monday (5 February) night.

"Four Myanmar BGP men with bullet injuries were taken to the CMCH at around 10:30pm and admitted to the casualty ward of the hospital," Sub-Inspector (SI) Nur Alam Ashek, in charge of the CMCH police outpost, said.

"They are in critical condition," he added, quoting the physicians of the hospital.

Bangladesh's border with Myanmar stretches 271.0 kilometres (168.4 miles), from the tri-point with India in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south.

Meanwhile, the BGB said it is on high alert so that no group including Rohingyas can infiltrate through the Myanmar border during the ongoing conflict between the rebel factions in the Rakhine state with Myanmar's military junta.

"Additional BGB personnel have been deployed in the border areas to closely monitor the situation," BGB Cox's Bazar Region Commander Brigadier General Morshed Alam told reporters at a press briefing in Bandarban on Monday (5 February) evening.

Bangladesh played a critical role in sheltering over a million Muslim minority Rohingyas who fled their home in Rakhine and took refuge in Bangladesh to evade persecution, particularly after a 2017 army crackdown but the current crisis visibly has little to do with the Rohingyas.

 

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When this article was published, total uniformed strength of Myanmar army was 150K soldiers.Of them 70K were combat soldiers.The army had suffered roughly 21K casualties as a result of the ongoing conflict.

 

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