Myanmar ready to take back security personnel who fled to Bangladesh: BGB

As many as 327 people have crossed into Bangladesh to escape the conflict between Myanmar military forces and armed insurgents

Published : 7 Feb 2024, 09:03 AM
Updated : 7 Feb 2024, 09:03 AM

Maj Gen Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman Siddiqui, the director general of Border Guard Bangladesh, has said that Myanmar is ready to take back the people who fled across the border to escape the conflict between junta forces and armed insurgents.

As many as 327 people, including members of the Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) and security forces, have taken refuge in southern Bangladesh over the last four days after surrendering their weapons to the BGB.

Eight of them have been sent to Cox's Bazar and Chittagong Medical College Hospital for treatment.

The group also includes four women and children, who are the family members of two BGP personnel, Siddiqui said on Wednesday after a visit to Bandarban's Ghumdhum High School, where the Myanmar nationals are taking shelter.

Panic has gripped the Tumbru border area in Bandarban's Naikhongchhari Upazila over the past week, with gunshots regularly ringing out from the Myanmar side amid heavy fighting between security forces and rebels from the Arakan Army.

Gunfire and mortar shells also reached Bangladeshi territory in the past few days, hitting homes, and killing two people, including a woman.

Bangladesh has strongly protested against the casualties by summoning the ambassador of Myanmar on Tuesday.

BGB chief Siddiqui downplayed concerns over security near the restive border, saying that the fighting has been comparatively less intense on Wednesday.

He also believes it is "safe" to travel to St Martin's Island by boat from Cox's Bazar or Teknaf. But he advised against travelling to the island unless it is absolutely necessary.

"Our foreign ministry has been in contact with officials in Myanmar. They said they are ready to take back the 264 people who are in Bangladesh. We have asked them to do it as soon as possible."

Asked whether the Myanmar forces are still in control of their border, Siddiqui said, "We have received some preliminary information, but we don't want to say anything based on that."

"From what I've seen from the Tumbru outpost, there are people manning the BGP outpost. However, it's not clear if they are members of the Myanmar military, BGP or rebels. But whoever they are, we are determined to ensure that no gunfire reaches our territory."

Local residents have also claimed that several armed men have infiltrated the Rohingya camps in the south coast. Addressing these claims, Siddiqui said, "We have received information about a few criminals. They will be handed over to the police."

He also pointed out that 75 people were turned away by border forces while attempting to enter Bangladesh by boat. The Coast Guard has been on alert since, increasing the number of patrols.