RANGOON — The Arakan Army has sought to reach out to the government of Bangladesh to prevent further skirmishes after fighting erupted between Bangladeshi border guards and the ethnic Arakanese rebels on Wednesday in western Burma.
Arakan Army (AA) deputy commander-in-chief Col Nyo Tun Aung, denied his group had encroached on a Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) camp, telling The Irrawaddy on Thursday they respected the latter’s right to patrol the border and hoped dialogue would help avert further clashes.
According to an official AA statement, the two-hour long clash began at around 10 am on Wednesday, with both sides opening fire near the Boro Modak area of Thanci in Bandaran District, near the shared Burma-Bangladesh border.
The Arakanese rebels claimed that at least one BGB soldier was killed.
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday that one injured BGB soldier had been rushed to a military hospital in Chittagong. The report also stated that Bangladesh had boosted its troop presence along the border.
“We have already explained to the Bangladeshi government that the AA is not the enemy,” said Nyo Tun Aung. “All indigenous ethnic groups in Burma are fighting for self-determination, democracy and equal rights…. The Bangladeshi government should, on humanitarian grounds, [show] empathy…”
The AA has instructed its forces to avoid any fighting, except in self-defense, the group said.
“We are trying to send a letter to the Bangladesh Prime Minister and we would like to say sorry for the conflict and that we would like to prevent this happening again in the future,” Nyo Tun Aung said.
The recent fighting is thought to have sparked after BGB soldiers confiscated several horses, used to carry supplies, belonging to the AA’s political wing.
The Arakan Army is also based in Laiza, Kachin State, where the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is headquartered, and has recently been engaged in fighting with government troops, along with the KIA and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.
In March, fighting broke out between the AA and the Burma Army near Kyauktaw Township in what was believed to be the first time in a decade that ethnic Arakanese armed rebels in the region had clashed with government troops.