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Myanmar soldiers fire shots on Rohingya in zero line

Burma Tımes

Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP) personnel inlcuding military fired shots on Rohingya refugees at around 8:pm yesterday, where they live in Taungbro border at Naikhonchari of Bandarban district, according to our correspondent.

Hashim, a Rohingya from the no man’s land, Taungbro border said that BGP personnel aimed their weapons at the Rohingyas in the morning and asked them to leave the area.

He alleged the Myanmar soldiers also tried to enter the Rohingya camp by crossing the barbed-wire fence.

Hashim also said that a large number of army personnel along with 10 trucks loaded with heavy arms and ammunition were dispatched on the Taungbro side of the border strip on Thursday.

BGB 34 Battalion Commander Lt Col Manjurul Hasan said, “We heard a hullabaloo in the Rohingya camp on the zero line at the time and informed inccident. No one was injured,”

Around 17,000 Rohingyas have been living in no man’s land between the countries since Myanmar launched a military operation dubbed “ethnic cleansing” in the Rakhine State on Aug 25 last year.

The foreign ministry of Bangladesh summoned the Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka yesterday afternoon and asked him to tell the Myanmar authorities to immediately withdrawal security forces along with military assets from the area.

It said such military buildup will create confusion in Bangladesh and escalate tensions on the border.

Acting Foreign Secretary Md Khurshed Alam told he handed over a “strong protest” note to Ambassador Lwin Oo.

The stand-in secretary referenced the recent visit to the no man’s land by officials of both countries to say they had demanded safety and security of the Rohingyas during the visit.

“I reminded them (Myanmar) if we cannot ensure safety and security, they will not want to go back. We need to create the condition.”

He added he warned the Myanmar ambassador, saying, “If you push them back, then it will have a very negative impact.”

BGB’s Additional Director General (operation and training) Brig Gen Mujibur Rahman said they were on “high alert” following the Myanmar move that “goes against the border norms”.

The border force’s ADG Mujibur briefed the media at the force’s headquarters in Peelkhana as the news of the mounting tension on the border got out.

He said they have called a flag meeting and also sent a protest note to the BGP.

Mujibur could not confirm the number of personnel of Myanmar security forces gathered on the border, but said it was ‘larger than normal’.

Officials at Bandarban district administration and BGB said the Myanmar authorities have been asking the Rohingyas to leave the no man’s land in different ways since the beginning of February.

On Thursday morning, a huge number of BGP personnel took position within a few hundred metres from the border with heavy weaponry.

They asked the Rohingyas to move away from the no man’s land, using loudspeaker for hours, and scaring the members of the ethnic minority, Naikkhonchari Upazila Executive Officer or UNO Sarwar Kamal said.

“The administration and the BGB have strengthened security along the border to tackle the situation,” he said.

Another refugee leader of the Rohingyas staying in Taungbro said, Myanmar’s BGP and army were throwing bottles of alcoholic drink and brickbats onto their shanties for some days.

“They have brought truckloads of people this morning. We want to live. We will be killed if we return to Myanmar,” he said.

The heavy presence of the Myanmar troops at the border has created panic among the Rohingyas staying on the border, but Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal says the latest development is ‘nothing significant’.

When asked for comments on the issue, he told reporters in Chittagong that Myanmar claimed it has deployed more troops in order to stop the Rohingyas in the no man’s land from entering Bangladesh.

“We saw earlier on many occasions, in 1978, 1991, 2016 and in 2017-18, that they (Myanmar) don’t do what they say. They are giving a wrong excuse now,” Kamal said. #

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