Intense fighting rages in Myanmar, 68 border guards fled to Bangladesh Sunday

Myanmar's BGP member fled thier country and took refuge at Ghumdhum border outpost

Fighting between the army and the insurgent groups has intensified in Myanmar along the border with Bangladesh.

Amid the clashes, a total of 68 members of Border Guard Police (BGP) fled Myanmar and took shelter in Bangladesh.

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) said the BGP members have been disarmed and kept at custody.

Locals said mortar shells and bullets crossed the border and fell on Bangladesh territory leaving the residents of border areas in panic.

People in some villages of Tumbru and Ghumdhum areas have left their homes and moved to safer places. Meanwhile, three Bangladeshis received bullet wounds as the gunshots crossed the border.

The night before, a house in Bangladesh caught fire as a mortar shell fell on it. Seven educational institutions were closed and vehicular movement was restricted in one road along the border.

Bangladesh shares a 283-kilometer long border with Myanmar, which mostly falls in Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar districts.  Some insurgent groups including the Arakan Army have intensified fighting for the last several weeks. The rebel groups have launched a unified attack on Myanmar’s troops. Insurgent groups have already taken over some border towns.

Residents of Ghumdhum union in Bandarban’s Naikhongchhari said they heard gunshots starting on the Myanmar side of the border at around 3:00am. The clash continued till 5 in the afternoon.

Locals glean information about the situation in Myanmar in various ways. They said the Arakan Army attacked Tumbru right camp in the morning, ensuing heavy gunfight. Myanmar Army helicopters bombed the area at 12:00pm and 3:00pm.

BGB and police sources said a total of 68 BGP members fled their country and took refuge in Bangladesh on Sunday. The BGB members have disarmed them and provided treatment to 15 wounded persons.

Naikhongchhari Pashchimkul mosque’s muezzin Faridul Islam told Prothom Alo that no gunshot was heard after 5:00pm.

BGB and police sources said a total of 68 BGP members fled their country and took refuge in Bangladesh on Sunday. The BGB members have disarmed them and provided treatment to 15 wounded persons.

Inspector Mahfuz Imtiaz Bhuiyan at the Ghumdhum investigation center of police told Prothom Alo yesterday evening that some members of BGP have been provided treatment. He does not have any information on whether any member of the Arakan Army fled to Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, the fighting in Myanmar rattled residents of five villages in Ghumdhum-Tumbru border area. Many families moved to safer places due to intense fighting.

A total of 23 families at Konarpara village, 22 families at Moddhompara, 10 families at Uttar Para, 22 families at Hindu Para and 10 families at Pashchimkul left their villages for a safer place.

Ghumdhum union parishad member Jahangir Aziz said three persons named Prabir Kumar Dhar,Titu and Halima received gunshots that crossed the border from Myanmar. The injured are receiving treatment.

School teacher Nurul Karim, a resident of Tumbru border, said a house caught fire in the Baishfari area as a shell fell on it from Myanmar. Bullet hit several other houses too.

‘Will be sent back’

Rakhine state (Arakan) based insurgent group Arakan Army is the military wing of the United League of Arakan (ULA) which is fighting for the right to self-determination. The Arakan Army launched 'Operation 1027' in Rakhine on 13 November. Since then, massive fighting has been going on with the Myanmar army in Rakhine state. Earlier in October, the Arakan Army announced it would join the wider fight as part of the Brotherhood Alliance, an anti-military alliance.

The Arakan Army took over the Myanmar Army’s Miwa base in the town of Paletoa bordering India on the other side of Myanmar. The insurgent group failed to capture this base after 42 days of continuous fighting. Several hundred soldiers of the Myanmar military have already fled from these areas and taken refuge in India. However, the incident of entering Bangladesh happened for the first time.

Two ministers have talked regarding the situation in Myanmar yesterday.

Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader sought China’s assistance as the impact of infighting in Myanmar has spilled over in Bangladesh.

Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, said this after China’s ambassador Yao Wen called on him at the secretariat yesterday, Sunday.

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Speaking about the issue discussed with the Chinese ambassador, Obaidul Quader said the impact of infighting in Myanmar has spilled over to the border area. Although what is happening in Myanmar is its internal conflict, Bangladeshis living near the border might get frightened when they hear the constant sound of gunfire.

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Meanwhile, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the BGP members have taken refuge in self-defence and they will be sent back to Myanmar.

The home minister added that BGB has been instructed to ensure that no one can enter Bangladesh crossing the border.