Bangladesh tightens security at border, maritime routes as battles rage in Myanmar

Conflict between the Myanmar army and armed rebel groups has intensified

Published : 1 Feb 2024, 08:10 PM
Updated : 1 Feb 2024, 08:10 PM

Bangladesh has beefed up security at the land and sea border as fierce fighting rages between the Myanmar army and armed insurgent groups in the country.

The Bangladesh Coast Guard has also stepped up patrols along the Naf River and coastal areas amid the conflict unfolding across the border in Teknaf.

Trade between the neighbouring countries by sea has come to a near standstill amid the ‘war-like situation’.

The fighting between the Myanmar army and rebels in Rakhine has already spilled across the border and affected communities in Bangladesh on several occasions.

Amid news of clashes on Saturday, a bullet hit a home in Whykong Union in Cox’s Bazar’s Teknaf, stirring panic among locals.

Holidays were declared at a few government primary schools in the Ghumdhum area of Naikhongchhari Upazila on Monday due to fears of gunfire. But schools reopened again on Tuesday.

Three mortar shells fell in the Tentoiarchara area of Ghumdhum on Tuesday, heightening tensions among residents.

As the situation continues to develop along the land border, the Coast Guard is keeping a close watch on the coastal areas and the Naf River border.

Coast Guard personnel are using high-speed boats, metal shark boats, ships, and various equipment to patrol the area, said Lt Com Lutful Lahil Majid, commander of the Teknaf Zone Coast Guard, said on Thursday.

Security had been strengthened and 24-hour patrols are being conducted by stations in various areas, including St Martin’s Island and Shah Porir Dip, he said.

Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf’s St Martin’s Island are popular tourist destinations during the winter season. Like every year, tourists from across the country have flocked to the area to the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Ships are still making daily trips from Teknaf to St Martin’s Island. But these ships of tourists are moving under the watchful eye of Coast Guard patrols.

“We are working at full force to ensure their security,” Lutful said.

“We are taking a firm stand to prevent Rohingya from entering Bangladesh to engage in human trafficking, smuggling, and the illegal trafficking of drugs while taking advantage of the current internal instability in Myanmar,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.

“Patrols are being conducted day and night with state-of-the-art vessels along with round-the-clock deployment at sea. In additional, extra manpower has been allocated to various stations for patrols.”