Panic grips residents as dozens of Myanmar border police take refuge in Bangladesh amid fierce fighting

Panicked residents say some Myanmar rebels have also crossed the border, but the authorities could not confirm the development

Sankar Barua Rumibdnews24.com
Published : 4 Feb 2024, 11:31 PM
Updated : 4 Feb 2024, 11:31 PM

Panic along the Tumbru border in Bandarban’s Naikkhyangchhari has peaked with dozens of Myanmar Border Guard Police, many of them wounded, taking shelter in Bangladesh amid heavy fighting with rebels on the other side. 

Gunfire and mortar shells reached the Bangladesh side in the past few days, hitting homes, injuring at least two locals, and forcing the authorities to close schools amid the sound of heavy gunfight. 

Tension mounted when 14 armed members of Myanmar’s BGP crossed the border in the morning. 

The number reached 68 at the end of the day, according to the Border Guard Bangladesh.

The BGB personnel disarmed the members of the Myanmar border force and gave them shelter, said Shariful Islam, a BGB spokesman.

He said 15 of the BGP men were being treated for wounds. They include two who were admitted to Cox’s Bazar Sadar Hospital with serious injuries.

Ashiqur Rahman, a doctor at the hospital, said the two BGP men were transferred from the Médecins sans frontières hospital at Kutupalong.

They have been identified as Ri Li Thaina, 22, and Ja Ni Mong, 30.

Panicked residents said some Myanmar rebels also crossed the border, but the authorities could not confirm the development.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the BGP personnel would be sent back through the Myanmar government because the Bangladesh government does not want conflict with anyone.

After a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Yao Wen, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the government sought China’s intervention because Bangladesh was being affected by the conflict. 

FROM THE SPOT

In the afternoon, the Tumbru Bazar, Poschimkul, Uttorpara and Konarpara areas were almost deserted with the sound of heavy gunfight coming from the nearby border.

Around 2:45pm, tension was observed at Poschimkul. Locals said some wounded and armed Myanmar rebels entered Bangladesh through that point.

As the http://bdnews24.com correspondent started filming the Myanmar citizens, one of them opened his shirt. He had a bloody wound wrapped in a piece of cloth. As he lost the ability to walk, locals helped him stand up and took him away.

Sometimes later, the residents of the area said four people with bullet wounds entered Bangladesh through that point. They took shelter at a house and later the BGB took them to the camp, where the Myanmar citizens surrendered.

The residents said the infiltration by the BGP men indicates they were losing their camps.

“It has become difficult to continue living here in this situation. The sound of heavy gunfight is coming throughout the days and nights. Bullets and mortar shells are falling here,” said a man in his 40s.

He said the adult men are sending the elderly, women and children of their families to their relatives’ houses in safer places. The men are staying behind to guard the houses and livestock.

“Several mortar shells landed around my house after 3am. There were bullets as well. I am panicked because my home can be torched anytime,” said Monir Ahmed, a resident of Konarpara, demanding government steps to ensure their safety.

At least 30 Myanmar citizens were seen entering Bangladesh through Tumbru Bazar, Ghumdhum Maitree Road, Uttorpara, Poschimkul, and Konarpara between 2:30pm and 5:15pm.

Videos obtained from the locals showed heavily armed Myanmar citizens, some in military fatigues, crossing the border through paddy fields. Some of them were firing from their weapons as they were fleeing.

A source requesting anonymity said six wounded members of Myanmar rebel group the Arakan Army were admitted to a private hospital in Cox’s Bazar town.

The rebels, aged between 20 and 24 and all from Rakhine, crossed the border around 12:30pm.

Kayser Hamid, inspector at Cox’s Bazar Sadar Police Station, said they did not have any such information. He said he would look into the matter.