Villagers living across the Naikkhyangchhari Upazila border in Bandarban have been spending their days in a constant state of panic for over three weeks now as fresh sounds of heavy artillery and gunfire rounds coming from the other side of the border in Myanmar rock the area.
Md Alam, a panel member of Ghumdum Union Parishad under the Upazila, said villagers in wards 2 and 3 heard sounds of intermittent heavy firing and shelling from early morning till 3 pm on Saturday.
“The sounds are mostly coming from the area, where a large group of Myanmar nationals took refuge on the zero point of the borderline in Konapara,” he said.
There were no reports of fresh sightings of fighter jets or attack helicopters.
Earlier this month, Myanmar military aircraft crossed the border into Bangladesh and opened fire from Bandarban.
Reports coming out of Myanmar suggest a full-blown armed conflict has broken out recently between the country’s military, officially known as Tatmadaw, and the Arakan Army, an insurgency group that has been seeking independence of Rakhine state, also home to over a million of Rohingya who have taken refuge in Bangladesh.
The armed struggle has been going on for the last three weeks and intensified recently after the rebels had killed 19 junta police officers and captured a police outpost in Maungdaw Township near the border. The insurgents reportedly seized firearms, ammunition and other equipment.
On Aug 28, two mortar shells from the military-ruled country also crossed the border and landed in Bangladesh territory, prompting Dhaka to summon the Myanmar envoy in Bangladesh to issue a strong statement condemning the action.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen recently said his government was monitoring the situation closely and was in close contact with the junta government regarding the developments.
Meanwhile, a leader of the Rohingya refugee camp on Konapara zero line, Dil Mohammad, said the 621 families, comprising 4,280 people, are in a state of shock and fear at the moment.
“I believe the sounds of firing and shelling are coming from within one kilometre from where we live,” he said.
bdnews24.com approached Lt Col Md Mehedi Hossain Kabir, commander of the 34th unit of Border Guards Bangladesh stationed in Cox’s Bazar, Naikkhyangchhari Upazila and Bandarban district authorities for comment but they did not respond.
Officials of the local administration declined to comment on the latest development.