Rohingya insurgent claims Wednesday’s gunfight was against Myanmar military, not ARSA

Bangladeshis residing in the areas along the Tumbru border in the hilly district have been living in fear since the deadly gunfight broke out on Wednesday afternoon

Mintu ChowdhuryChattogram Bureaubdnews24.com
Published : 20 Jan 2023, 08:32 PM
Updated : 20 Jan 2023, 08:32 PM

A Rohingya insurgent who is being treated at a hospital in Chattogram has claimed that the gunfight that took place on Wednesday along the Tumbru border at Ghumdhum in Bandarban’s Naikkhyangchhari was between his insurgency group and the Myanmar security agency.

The 23-year-old injured man, Muhib Ullah, who claimed to be a member of the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation or RSO - one of the myriads of active rebel groups in the Rakhine region in Myanmar - was carried to the Bangladesh side of the border by his comrades-in-arms after he was shot in his upper chest and on his hand.

Hamid Ullah, 27, one of Muhib’s fellow insurgents, was killed during the gunfight, the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital for the refugee camps confirmed on Thursday.

Earlier on the same day, Romen Sharma, UNO or chief executive of Naikkhyangchhari Upazila administration, told the media that the gunfight was between the members of another rebel group called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA, and the RSO.

When approached on Friday, Romen backtracked from his previous statement and referred it to the Border Guard Bangladesh.

None of the Bangladesh security agencies and paramilitary forces has yet to issue any statement in this connection.

‘WHAT WE WANT IS AZADI’

Just like millions of other Rohingya, who had been displaced from their homes back in 2017 following a coordinated brutal military crackdown to root out the ethnic Muslim community, Muhib and the members of his family took refuge at a camp in Cox’s Bazar’s Teknaf.

The US, UN and the EU have termed the campaign as ethnic cleansing.

Muhib, along with some others within his camp, moved back to Myanmar in 2018 to join a movement, led by RSO, to fight against the Myanmar military.

“What we want is the Azadi of Arakan,” he said, using the Urdu term of independence and the old name of the Rakhine region, adding that he has been an active RSO member even before he was forced to move to Bangladesh in 2017.

“The gunfight was part of our insurgent expedition against the Myanmar forces.”

Claiming that his insurgency unit has at least 85 members, Muhib told http://bdnews24.com that he was trained for three years since 2018 to operate multiple types and handguns and assault rifles in the remote hilly hinterland of Rakhine region.

He, however, refused to give up the name of the unit’s leader, claiming the unit members don’t share their identities with each other for security purposes.

Bangladeshis residing in the areas along the Tumbru border have been living in fear since the deadly gunfight broke out.

Amid the gun battle, a fire destroyed two-thirds of a refugee camp housing thousands of members of the Myanmar ethnic minority on a strip of land between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, more than 4,500 Rohingya refugees lived in the camp.

The refugees from the camp have taken shelter at Ghumdhum High School as the situation has triggered fears of another Rohingya influx.

“No one is going near the zero line as the residents are extremely panicked. Security has been strengthened,” said Jahangir Aziz, chairman of the Ghumdhum union council.

Tension in that particular border region is at a peak for the last few months due to a reported battle between another insurgency group, called the Arakan Army, and the Myanmar security forces.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher