Teknaf border shelling intensifies with smoke billowing across Naf River

Around 40-50 explosions were heard from 7:30am to 8am on Saturday

Cox’s Bazar & Teknaf Correspondentsbdnews24.com
Published : 2 March 2024, 03:23 PM
Updated : 2 March 2024, 03:23 PM

Smoke and flames were observed at the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar after continuous loud explosions amid a violent conflict between the Myanmar military and rebels of the Arakan Army.

Smoke was seen across the Hnila border in Cox's Bazar's Teknaf from 8am on Saturday. On the other side of the border are Balibazar and Nagakura Para in Myanmar.

Tarek Mahmud Roni, the president of Hnila Adarsha Govt Primary School, believed that a village located between these areas appears to have been deliberately set ablaze.

Roni noted a shift in the conflict dynamics, with gunfire subsiding by Friday evening, only for explosions to intensify post-midnight into Saturday morning.

A series of around 40 to 50 explosions were reported between 7:30am and 8am, with fires raging until noon.

However, upon recalling the Rohingya crisis in 2017, Roni noted that the residents are terrified of the explosions and the smoke.

The Arakan Army clashed with the military in Myanmar's villages east of the Whykong and Hnila border, including Kumirhali, Naichdong, Kwangchigong, Shilkhali, and Nafpura.

The Border Guard Bangladesh and Coast Guard members have increased their patrols along the Naf River, covering a 54km stretch from Whykong in Teknaf Upazila to Shah Pori’s island at the border.

Residents of the border region reported intermittent shelling and mortar fire in some villages around Maungdaw in Myanmar’s Rakhine State from Friday evening to Saturday afternoon.

Rashed Mahmud Ali, chairman of Hnila Union, mentioned that fighting intensified in Rakhine State over two days, with mortar shells exploding across the Naf River.

Fear prevented thousands from going to their farms, he added.

Shah Jalal, the panel chairman of the Whykong union council, noted that the loud sound of mortar shells caused tremors in his area. Children were disturbed by frequent vibrations at night, and many cried out in fear.

The Arakan Army took control of the Totardia area on the Naf River bank across the Whykong Union two weeks ago, and now it is believed that the Myanmar security forces are trying to retake it.

Adnan Chowdhury, the Upazila executive officer or UNO, said the BGB and the Coast Guard have strengthened patrols along the Myanmar border and residents have been advised to remain vigilant amid the escalating conflict in Rakhine state.

Residents living on the Naikhongchhari border in Bandarban and the Ukhia border in Cox’s Bazar did not hear any gunfire last three days.

Lt Col Mohiuddin Ahmed, leading the Teknaf 2 Battalion of the BGB, said they are closely monitoring the situation in Rakhine and the BGB is on high alert to prevent Rohingya infiltration.