Bangladesh Deploys Troops on Myanmar’s Border

By Htet Naing Zaw 28 September 2020

Naypyitaw — The Bangladeshi military has deployed troops in Cox’s Bazar District in southeastern Bangladesh along Myanmar’s border, according to Myanmar’s security sources.

The sources, who did not want to be named, reported seeing Division 10 along the border increasing in size since Sept. 25 with 155mm rocket launchers, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and anti-aircraft machine guns.

Myanmar’s military spokesman, Major General Zaw Min Tun, said Myanmar’s armed forces were taking action to maintain border security without affecting bilateral military relations.

Myanmar’s military has recently beefed up security along the border, citing increased activities by the Arakan Army (AA) and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

On Sept. 13, the Bangladeshi foreign ministry summoned Myanmar’s ambassador in Dhaka and expressed concerns about the border deployments. It also sent a complaint to the United Nations Security Council on Sept. 15.

Bangladesh said in its complaint that it was concerned more refugees may flee over the border, due to the activities by ground forces and naval patrols close to the border with audible gunshots from Myanmar’s territory.

Myanmar’s military only increased border patrols for security but did not deploy extra troops, Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun said during an online press conference on Saturday.

“There have been increased activities by the AA and ARSA along the border in Buthidaung and Maungdaw townships. While we have stepped up security measures, [Bangladesh] has openly raised objections. And it has also filed a complaint with the UN. So we have suspicions that it has a hidden agenda,” Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun said.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Bangladeshi ambassador in Yangon to say the military operations were not intended to threaten Bangladesh but part of the normal security operations in Rakhine State.

Rakhine affairs analyst U Maung Maung Soe said: “Bangladesh seems to have concerns when Myanmar’s troops came very close. It won’t say anything if Myanmar’s navy patrols on the Mayu River but it appears the navy patrolled on the Naf River, which marks the border. Bangladesh might be concerned that more Muslim refugees will flee due to the activities.”

Despite the rumors of close links between the AA and ARSA — both of which operate along the Bangladeshi border — no evidence has been presented, he added.

The military has labeled both the AA and ARSA as terrorist organizations. The AA is currently engaged in ongoing fighting with Myanmar’s military in northern Rakhine.

The ARSA launched a series of attacks on security outposts in northern Rakhine on Aug. 25, 2017, killing 12 security personnel. The attacks prompted the military to carry out clearance operations that forced an estimated 730,000 Rohingya into neighboring Bangladesh. Myanmar has since come under international pressure over the mass exodus of Rohingya.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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