KNF agrees to ceasefire after two and a half hours meeting

Map of Bandarban district
Prothom Alo illustration

The new armed group of Chittagong Hill Tracks, Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) has agreed to a ceasefire in the hill areas.

The KNF made the agreement ceasefire at a meeting with the members of the peace committee formed by the district council on Wednesday. The meeting started at 11:00am and continued for two and a half hours.

Peace committee spokesperson Kanchenjoy Tanchangya said both sides also agreed to continue peace talks.

According to the district council sources, 12 members of the peace committee joined a virtual meeting with the KNF representatives from district council conference. Led by KNF spokesperson Laljong Mui Bom alias Brigadier General Mawaia, four KNF representatives joined the meeting via mobile phone from separate locations.

After the meeting, peace committee spokesperson Kanchenjoy Tanchangya told journalists the KNF members have been proposed to sit for dialogue face-to-face and also assured of their security during the dialogue.

In reply, Laljong Mui Bom abd Lalsang Lom Mui Bom wanted to know the Bangladesh government’s stance on their demands and they also agreed to maintain a peaceful environment saying both sides will have to maintain a peaceful atmosphere.

The peace committee members told the KNF that they would be informed before a meeting and their demand must be in light with the constitution.

A peace committee led by Bandarban district council chairman Kyaw Shwe Hla Marma was formed on 29 May this year to ensure a peaceful environment in the remote areas of Ruma, Rowangchhari and Thanchi and to bring back the KNF members to normal life.

The committee has been trying to hold talks with the KNF since the beginning and its first meeting was held on Wednesday. However, date of next talks is yet to be fixed.

KNF started armed activities in Baghaichhari, Barkal, Jurachhari, Bilaichhari, Rowangchhari, Ruma, Thanchi, Lama and Alikadam upazilas of Rangamati and Bandarban in mid-2022. Nathan Bom of the Bom ethnic community led the group.

KNF claims to represent six ethnic groups—Bom, Pankhwa, Lusai, Khiang, Mro and Khumi, but Bom dominates the group.

KNF allegedly trained the operatives of the militant outfit Jamaatul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya at their hideouts. Law enforcement agencies launched a combined operation against the KNF and the Sharqiya on 9 October last year. Founder of the Sharqiya, Shamim Fahmuz, who was arrested in 23 June in Dhaka, also acknowledged that the militants received training from KNF.