Another 63 members of Myanmar's Border Guard Police have crossed into Bangladesh seeking refuge amid an ongoing conflict between military forces and armed insurgents.
The new arrivals entered Bangladesh through the Ulubonia border point in Teknaf Upazila around on Wednesday. The Border Guard Bangladesh subsequently disarmed the troopers and took them into their custody.
So far, a total of 327 people from Myanmar, mostly security personnel, have fled across the border in the space of four days, according to Shariful Islam, a spokesman for the BGB.
Despite intermittent gunfire, the fighting on the other side has been less intense between midnight on Tuesday and Wednesday noon compared to previous days, according to local public representatives.
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.
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.
The Myanmar military and rebel group Arakan Army have been involved in intense fighting in Rakhine state, across the border from the Tumbru area in Bandarban’s Naikhongchhari for the past few days.
On Saturday night, the rebels seized a Border Guard Police (BGP) outpost and 14 members of the Myanmar border security force fled to Bangladesh. Since then, more and more people have crossed the border.
The effects of the conflict across the border are being felt by residents on the Bangladeshi side as well. Many have fled their homes and sought shelter with friends and family living further away.
A Bangladeshi woman living in Naikhongchhari’s Ghumdhum area and an elderly Rohingya man were killed by a mortar shell fired from Myanmar on Monday afternoon.
Another mortar shell fired from Myanmar landed on the porch of a family’s home in Ghumdhum on Tuesday morning, but there were no casualties.
WHAT LED TO THE CONFLICT?
In 2021, the Myanmar military overthrew the elected civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup. In late October 2023, three ethnic rebel groups in Myanmar joined forces to launch a coordinated offensive against the junta forces.
These groups are the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Arakan Army (AA), and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).
These groups have engaged in armed conflict with the Myanmar military in the states of Shan, Rakhine, Chin and Kayah. The rebels have successfully taken over several important areas and army posts.
The Arakan Army, an armed force of a minority ethnic group in the western state of Rakhine, is fighting for greater autonomy for Rakhine.
The conflict between the army and insurgents is spilling over and affecting communities across the border. Sunday saw the largest influx from Myanmar since the war began.
Between late August and early September 2022, there were incidents of shelling from Myanmar warplanes that crossed the border into Bangladesh. Helicopters also entered Bangladesh territory.
Many people from border areas fled in panic, seeking refuge in safer locations.
Dhaka then summoned the country’s ambassador to register its protest and express condemnation and concern over these incidents.