Residents pass sleepless night as fighting intensifies on Myanmar side

Photo shows the empty market in Betbuniya of Ghumdhum union in Naikhongchhari, Bandarban on 6 February 2023.SM Hanif

Incidents of firing and hurling mortar shells took place centering Dhekibunia outpost in Myanmar on the other side of  Naikhongchhari border in Bandarban through the Monday night.

As a result, at least 13 villages were shaken along the Bangladesh border.

Residents on this side of Bangladesh passed a sleepless night as non-stop sound of firing was heard from 9:00pm on Monday to 6:00am on Tuesday.

Locals said Myanmar’s Dhekibunia border outpost falls on the other side of the border of Naikhongchhari upazila’s Ghumdhum union and Ukhiya upazila’s Palongkhali union.

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Gunfire and launch of mortar shells have been going on between insurgent group Arakan Army and Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP) over taking over the Dhekibunia outpost at 11:00pm on Sunday.

Two people including a Rohingya were killed in Jalpaitali village after a mortar shell from Myanmar landed on the Bangladesh territory on Monday.

During a spot visit in the Modhompara area of Ghumdhum union from 6:00am to 8:00am on Tuesday, it was found that people were not going outside of their houses and several men were seen staying in the area while women and children left the village.

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Abdus Sobhan, 70, is a muezzin at a mosque in Modhompara. He told Prothom Alo that Azan for Fajr prayer was proclaimed as usual, but none came to offer prayer since everyone is afraid of shelling.

Syed Nur, 65, resides near the Ghumdhum High School. He told Prothom Alo, “People are more frightened now than they had been during the 1971 Liberation War. At that time, people fought frontline battles. Now fighting is on the other side of the border and we can do nothing. Nobody stayed at our house at night, and I just returned from Balukhali.”

Sound of gunfire and shelling shook the area including Modhompara, Jalpaitli, Mondalpara, Nayapara, Konarpara, Paschimkul, Betbunia Bazar Para of Ghumdhum union, and Ukhiyar Ghat, East Outpost Beel, Nalbania, Anjuman Para, Balukhali, Dakshin Balu Khali of nearby Palongkhali union.

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Palongkhali union parishad chairman Gafur Uddin Chowdhury told Prothom Alo, “Fighting has intensified between two groups since 9:00pm on Monday. We never felt such a shake before. When a shell is fired, the entire area shook, and people passed a sleepless night.”

Ghumdhum union parishad chairman Jahangir Aziz said people passed sleepless night and panic increased since the death of two people by mortar shell. Everyone has been instructed to stay alert and not to leave house unnecessarily, he added.