Foreign missions and agencies leaving Rakhine
The fight between the insurgent Arakan Army and government forces in the Rakhine state of Myanmar bordering Bangladesh is further intensifying. Members of foreign missions and agencies are being evacuated from there.
According to diplomatic sources, the diplomats of the Indian consulate have already left the capital of Rakhine State, Sittwe. Bangladeshi diplomats will also leave within a couple of days.
The impact of intense fighting between the government forces and rebels is also felt in Bangladesh. Shells are falling in the villages along the Naikhyangchhari border in Bandarban and Ukhiya border in Cox’s Bazar. Already two people have been killed and several others sustained injuries after being hit by the shells. The people in these villages have been living in fear for the last five days. Many have left their houses for safer places.
At the same time, many members of the Border Guard Police (BGP), which is under the control of Myanmar's military government, have fled to Bangladesh and taken refuge here since Monday. As of Thursday evening, a total of 330 BGP members have taken refuge in Bangladesh. There are members of the Myanmar Army and police and several government officials among them.
According to sources in Yangon and Sittwe, the fight between the rebel groups and the armed forces of Myanmar has been intensifying since the last week of January in the Rakhine region. The fight has escalated over the last few days.
In this situation, the Indian consulate in Rakhine evacuated all of its diplomats from Sittwe on Thursday. Only the local officials of the consulate and Myanmar citizens are working there at the moment. Both India and Bangladesh have consulates in Rakhine.
Meanwhile, India has cancelled the free movement regime (FMR) with Myanmar on Thursday in the face of the ongoing civil war. Indian home minister Amit Shah wrote in his X handle, “The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided that the Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar be scrapped to ensure the internal security of the country and to maintain the demographic structure of India’s North Eastern States bordering Myanmar. Since the Ministry of External Affairs is currently in the process of scrapping it, MHA has recommended the immediate suspension of the FMR.”
The Arakan Army has already captured at least three battalions of the Myanmar military. According to a report of online new portal Radio Free Asia, the rebels have captured the battalions – 379 and 541 of the Minbia infantry on the western part of the Rakhine state. Earlier on 28 January, the rebellions took control of battalion 380 of the Myanmar army.
An entire command of the BGP and half of another command has fled to Bangladesh over the last two weeks. The Arakan Army has taken over those commands. In all, the members of Arakan Army have taken over three of the 10 commands of the Myanmar Army and BGP in Rakhine North.
The diplomatic sources in Myanmar and Bangladesh say there are around 15,000 members of the Myanmar Army and BGP across the Rakhine state. Almost half of them were deployed in Rakhine North.
Willing to be unnamed, a source said although at least 750 members of the BGP and Myanmar Army were supposed to be deployed in each command on average, only 400-450 soldiers were deployed in each command in the last few months. As such, at least 750 members of Myanmar Army and BGP have fled from their command areas and outposts. Some 330 of them have fled to Bangladesh so far. It is being assumed that the remaining of them is fleeing in search of shelter.
According to an informed source, the Arakan Army has launched attacks on the Myanmar Army from the north and forced them to move southward. Besides, the Arakan Army has captured several areas in the eastern and southern parts of Rakhine. As a consequence, the members of the government forces deployed in Rakhine had no other way than entering Bangladesh.
Speaking to the newspersons, Bangladesh foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen on Wednesday said a large portion of a BGP battalion and almost half of another has fled to Bangladesh. The Border Guard Bangladesh is on high alert to avert any threat to the security of Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, it has been learned that the junta government has started the process to take back the members of armed forces through the sea. The Myanmar navy will send a vessel for this very soon.