Bangladesh Launches Police Probe on ARSA Chief and Others Over Intelligence Officer’s Death

By Muktadir Rashid   26 November 2022

DHAKA — An investigation has been launched in Bangladesh into 66 alleged members of a Rohingya militant group over a shootout earlier this month on Myanmar’s border in which a Bangladeshi security officer was killed.

An investigation into Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) commander-in-chief Ataullah abu Ammar Jununi and 65 others was launched on Wednesday over the killing of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) officer Rizwan Rushdee and injuring of a Rapid Action Battalion member during an anti-smuggling operation in hilly Bandarban district on November 14.

Mohammad Anwar Hossain, an intelligence officer in Cox’s Bazar, filed the case, naming Ataullah, 48, and 31 others and another 35 unnamed people on charges of murder, causing grievous hurt and other charges.

ARSA, based along Myanmar-Bangladeshi border, has links to Islamic groups in Pakistan and claims to be fighting for Rohingya rights. It allegedly launched simultaneous attacks on more than 24 police stations and one army outpost in northwestern Rakhine State in 2017.

Ustab Khaled, Maulana Mostafa, Dil Mohammad and Maulavi Arif Ahmed were also named as suspects in the case.

Dil Mohammad on Friday asked why he was named in the investigation.

“It must be a mistake. My associate Arif is also named. We always cooperate with the Bangladeshi government,” he said.

Ataullah is reportedly living on the border near Gundhum in Naikhyangchari.

“The case is filed and an investigation is underway,” said Chattogram police officer Anwar Hossain on Friday. No arrests have been made.

The DGFI said Squadron Leader Rizwan’s identity card and wireless transceiver went missing during the incident.

Rizwan, a military helicopter pilot, was found dead hours after the operation at the Konarpara-Tambru border on November 14.

The authorities said Rizwan had served in the intelligence agency since May.

Dhaka blamed an armed group linked to ARSA.

Community leaders said a Rohingya woman, Sajeda Begum, 20, was shot dead in a crossfire. The police investigation did not mention her.

The newly formed Arakan Rohingya National Alliance rights group this week condemned the killing by “criminal drug dealers”.

ARSA was unavailable for comment.

In late October, an intelligence report claimed ARSA was responsible for killings, attacks and threats in Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar.

It said firearms were being smuggled into Bangladesh through the Tambru border and recommended a police outpost be established.

In 30 attacks between August and October this year, the report said ARSA was killing or injuring Rohingyas by shooting, hacking and separating organs to create a reign of terror among refugees.

Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan in early November told the Daily New Age: “There are indications of the presence of a few ARSA members along the border and that is why we have sealed it off.”

Following a military crackdown on Rohingyas that started in August 2017, nearly a million Rohingya fled Myanmar for Bangladesh, joining thousands of other Rohingya refugees. Many are still sheltering along the border.