Member of Bangladeshi Border Guard Killed by Burmese Police

By Lawi Weng 30 May 2014

RANGOON — A Burmese border guard police officer has confirmed that a member of the Border Guard Bangladesh was killed by his unit on Wednesday when a clash broke out between the two sides amid rising tensions along the border, with the government in Dhaka calling for an investigation into the incident.

“One from the other side [Bangladesh] was killed by our police force when a clash broke out on May 28,” Tun Oo, a police colonel in Sittwe, Arakan State, told The Irrawaddy on Friday. “After the clash, we have had ongoing negotiations and there is no problem.”

That assurance came despite unconfirmed reports from Bangladeshi media late on Friday that a firefight between the two sides had erupted again on Friday afternoon.

In the initial aftermath of the clash on Wednesday, police in Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township told Burmese media that the incident involved members of the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), a militant group said to be based in Bangladesh.

According to those erroneous reports, Burmese police killed one member of the RSO and seized a firearm following the clash. No mention was made of the Border Guard Bangladesh, a paramilitary force under Bangladesh’s Ministry of Home Affair.

The involvement of Border Guard Bangladesh personnel only came to light after the Bangladesh government asked the Burmese Embassy in Dhaka to investigate the case, with the Bangladeshi Embassy in Rangoon also pressuring Burma’s Foreign Ministry on the matter.

Sources near the border in Maungdaw Township told The Irrawaddy that the Burmese military has deployed troops, seemingly in response to the heightened presence of Bangladeshi security personnel across the border.

Hla Maung, a Rohingya Muslim in Maungdaw, said that although the township was “stable,” some villagers living near the increasingly tense area have fled, fearing more clashes might break out amid the bolstered security presence on both sides of the border.

The BGB officer was killed between border posts 52 and 53, about 30 miles from Maungdaw Township.

Clashes involving Burmese police along the Burma-Bangladesh border have been increasingly reported in recent months. An Arakan State spokesman confirmed last week that four border guard police officers were killed after a gunfight on May 17 with an unidentified armed group along the border.

The Burmese government has undertaken an effort to fence in the porous border on the country’s western flank, saying the project is necessary to protect Burma’s sovereignty and prevent illegal border crossings from Bangladesh.

Staff at the Bangladesh Embassy in Rangoon on Friday said no one was available to comment on the situation.