Bangladesh digging bunkers along Burma border

Oct 15, 2009 (DVB), Bangladeshi troops are digging bunkers along its border with Burma following further deployment of personnel to the region, according to a source on the border.

Troops have been sent by Dhaka to the border area near to Teknaf, the southernmost point of mainland Bangladesh. Teknaf lies opposite Maungdaw district in Burma's western Arakan state.

Tension along the border has risen in recent weeks as Burma resumes construction of its controversial border fence, with army units being reinforced on both sides.

"Bunkers are being dug with hired workers alongside the Naf river on the Bangladeshi side of the border," said the source.

He added that a senior Burmese military official and the chief of Burma's border security force, Nasaka, traveled to Maungdaw on 12 October to inspect the fence.

On the same day it was reported that Bangladesh's chief of defence also arrived in the Teknaf area to inspect the situation.

The Burmese army has also been constructing and renovating outposts along the border for defensive action, according to sources quoted recently by Narinjara news agency.

Construction of the border fence, aimed at stopping cross-border smuggling, has aggrieved local residents who complain about greater militarization of the region.

Although the project began in February, it was stalled in April following talks between Dhaka and Naypyidaw. Construction resumed at the beginning of October, which marked the start of the dry season.

Bangladesh and Burma are also involved in a fiery dispute over maritime boundaries in the Bay of Bengal, with both countries' navies reportedly lined up against one another in the event of conflict.

A lawyer representing Dhaka in a UN arbitration over the dispute said yesterday that Burmese warships had been "intimidating" two foreign oil companies contracted by Dhaka to explore in the area.

Reporting by Nan Kham Kaew

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