Bangladesh Border Residents Live in Fear of Myanmar Junta Attacks

By Muktadir Rashid   19 September 2022

DHAKA — An estimated 10,000 people, including about 4,000 Rohingyas, in Bangladesh’s Bandarban district on Myanmar’s border, are in fear of Myanmar junta fighter jets, drones, mortars and machine guns fire.

On Friday evening at least three mortar shells were fired across the border, killing 17-year-old Mohammad Ikbal and injuring six others, who were taken to hospital.

Many Rohingya are sheltering in Kutupalang’s refugee camps, Rohingya  community leaders said.

The Border Guard Bangladesh and coastguard have been put on alert along the porous border.

Bangladesh officials on Monday visited the area and held talks with community representatives about relocating vulnerable settlements.

Bandarban deputy commissioner Yasmin Parvin Tibriji told reporters on Monday that border communities could be relocated if they requested.

The deadly bombardment on Friday led the Bangladesh foreign ministry to summon Myanmar’s envoy Aung Kyaw Moe on Sunday.

It was the fourth time since August 21 that the ambassador had been summoned to the foreign ministry in protest against border incursions.

The ministry stated on Sunday: “Bangladesh lodged a strong protest with Myanmar over the intrusion of mortar shells, aerial firing and airspace violations from Myanmar causing death and injury to people inside Bangladesh territory.”

It handed a protest note to the ambassador who reportedly acknowledged the firing of mortars but claimed they were fired by rebel groups fighting the regime near the border. The rebel Arakan Army rejected the accusation and condemned the shelling.

“The envoy was told that the government of Myanmar was responsible for maintaining security inside Myanmar as well as for ensuring that no violation of the border and airspace with neighboring Bangladesh took place,” the ministry said.

Bangladesh reiterated its zero-tolerance approach to terrorism and the harboring of any elements hostile to its neighbors’ security.

It demanded Myanmar stop reckless “military action near the border and ensure that no ammunition from Myanmar falls inside the Bangladesh territory”.

“The envoy was reminded that the situation was detrimental to kickstarting the repatriation process of the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals temporarily sheltered in Bangladesh on humanitarian grounds,” the ministry announced.

Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the issue would be handled diplomatically, maybe through the United Nations.

The UN resident coordinator in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis told The Irrawaddy on Monday that her office was concerned, reporting one death and several injuries.

“The lives of civilians must be protected and the UN is calling for calm to avoid any further injury or escalation,” Lewis said. “The UN security teams are monitoring the situation closely.”

A Rohingya camp leader Dil Mohammad, who crossed the border during the 2017 Rakhine State crackdown, said shells were heard from the camp on Sunday.

He said camp residents feared for their safety.

Hamida Begum, 40, a Bangladeshi border resident, told The Irrawaddy that she abandoned her house after a shell landed on August 28.

She said her male relatives were too scared to go out to work.

Last week Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she did not want war with Bangladesh’s neighbors.

On September 3, junta aircraft fired at least twice into Bangladesh five days after Myanmar’s envoy was summoned in protest over a similar incident on August 28.