Rohingya people living on the no man's land on Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Naikhyangchhari
Prothom Alo

Firing from artillery and shelling have been going on incessantly on the Myanmar side of the border in Ghumdum area in Bandarban’s Naikhyangchhari, creating panic among the Bangladeshi residents.

A Rohingya teen, Md Iqbal, died earlier on Friday night as mortar shells from a hill in Myanmar fell in a Rohingya shelter center on zero line. Five more Rohingyas including a girl were injured.

Local people’s representatives and border security force personnel said the Myanmar army started to fire mortar shells continuously on Friday afternoon after a pause of three days. The firing continued till 4 in the morning. The firing started again on Walingdon hill in Rakhine state from 9:00am on Saturday. The incessant firing created panic among the people along the Ghumdum border. SSC examinees of Ghumdum high school centre were shifted to Kutupalang high school due to security reasons.

In charge of Ghumdum police outpost Sohagh Rana told Prothom Alo that around 250 SSC examinees have been shifted to the Kutupalang examination centre and many others reached the exam centre on their own arrangement. There were a total of 499 examinees in the Ghumdum high school centre. Police cannot go to the border area but the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) men remain vigilant there.

The journalists could not go to the border area despite several attempts in the morning as they are intercepted at the BGB check post. BGB members also remain mum on the border situation.

The camp’s managing committee chairman Dil Mohammad, 50, was a member of Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP) for 10 years. He is from Medipara in Rakhine state.

Dil Mohammad told Prothom Alo that incessant shooting and intermittent firing of mortar shells from Myanmar’s hill continued from 6 in the afternoon yesterday to 4 in the morning today. Many mortar shells and bullets landed on zero line.

A shell hit near the Konorpara canal at the north side of the camp at around 8:20pm on Friday injuring 6 people. Rohingya teen Iqbal died in this incident. A fighter jet of Myanmar also hovered inside the Bangladesh border in the Tumbru area.

Dil Mohammad said the firing targeting the shelter camp on zero line seems to be planned as the Myanmar army has long been wanting the Rohingyas sheltered on the camp to be moved inside Bangladesh. But the Rohingyas of that camp do not want to move elsewhere as the place is near their houses in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

Over 4,200 Rohingyas have been living in shelter camps on the zero line opposite the Tumbru border after being forced out of their homes in Myanmar. Just behind the camps lie several hills of Myanmar with some BGP outposts on it. International Red Cross Committee provides relief for the residents of the camps every 15 days.

Ghumdum union parishad’s member of ward no. 2 Dil Mohammad Bhuttu told Prothom Alo that five injured Rohingyas are being treated at MSF Hospital in Kutupalang camp in Ukhiya.  A child named Sadia has been sent to Chattogram Medical College hospital on Friday night after her condition had deteriorated.

Majhi (leader) of shelter centre’s no. 5 shed Md Sadek said the shell that fell on Rohingya camp had hit in a comparatively less populated area. The petrol of Myanmar border security forces has been increased.

Several hundred farmers of Ghumdum area have refrained from farming for the last 10 to 15 days out of fear. A Bangladeshi youth named Athowaing Tonchangya, 22, was critically injured in a landmine explosion near pillar no. 35 opposite to Tumbru border on Friday afternoon. The youth, a resident of Headman para is now being treated in Chattogram Medical College Hospital. Panicked farmers fear more landmine explosions along the border after the incident.

Ghumdum union parishad chairman AKM Jahangir Aziz said the residents of the area are panicked as a fierce battle has been raging between the Myanmar army and Arakan Army men in Rakhine state for over a month.

Life has come to a near standstill for the Bangladeshi residents along the border as they cannot open their businesses. No one is being allowed to go to the border area, he added.