Panic spread as gunshots heard overnight at Naikhongchhari, Ukhiya, Teknaf borders

Naikhongchhari’s Tumbru borderFile photo

Intermittent sounds of firing of bullets and mortar rounds were heard from several spots in the Rakhine state in Myanmar for about 12 hours from Sunday night to Monday morning.

The Bangladeshi citizens in Ghumdhum of Bandarban’s Naikhongchhari, Palangkhali in Cox’s Bazar’s Ukhiya and Teknaf Sadar, Whykong, Hnila and Sabrang unions heard loud bangs of bullet and mortar shells from around 9:00 pm Sunday to 9:00 am Monday.

The ongoing fight between Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP) and armed rebel group Arakan Army escalated across the Naikhongchhari border from the night on 2 February, said sources from the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and police. The Arakan Army has already taken control of Tumbru Right camp and Dhekibunia border post from the BGP.

Local people and the public representatives said they heard a large-scale firing at Tumbru Right camp, just south of Naikhongchhari’s Tumbru Bazar around 5:45 am Monday. Near the same time, there were incidents of firing and shelling of four mortar rounds at a security outpost in Rakhine state across the Jamcchari village border in Naikhongchhari union.

Ghumdhum union parishad chairman Jahangir Aziz told Prothom Alo the local people were passing days in panic due to the resumption of firing. However, no bullet or mortar shells landed inside the Bangladesh territory as of Monday morning, he added.

Ghumdhum police outpost inspector Mahmud Imtiaz Bhuiyan said the union’s Baisphari, Jalpaitali, Post Camp, Dakkhin Para, Paschim Para, Paschimkul, and Hadman are adjacent to the international border. As bullets and mortar shells are being fired in the Rakhine state, the people in Bangladesh are gripped by fear.

Panic in Ukhiya and Teknaf borders too

There were incidents of firing of bullets and mortar shells in Bolibazar, Jhimongkhali, Keariprang, Perangpuru, Nalbilas and several other villages near Maungdaw township in Rakhine Sunday night.

Panic spread among the Bangladeshis as the situation continued as of 9:00 am Monday, said Palangkhali union parishad chairman Gafur Uddin Chowdhury.

He further said there is no guarantee when the fighting in Rakhine would stop but nearly 50,000 people of Ukhiya and Teknaf borders have been passing sleepless nights.

Abdul Gani from Jaliapara in Shah Porir Dwip of Teknaf said they heard gunshots from Sunday night to around 7:00 am Monday.

They have been passing days in scarcity as they could not fish in the Naf river.

Teknaf-2 BGB Battalion commander Lt. Col. Md Mohiuddin Ahmed said the BGB members kept on alert to stop Rohingya infiltration as well as observing the situation in Myanmar.

He said so far 79 Rohingya people were detained when they were attempting to cross the border and sent back to Myanmar.