Tensions flare at Burma-Bangladesh border

Tensions flare at Burma-Bangladesh border

Troops clashed at the Burma-Bangladesh border on Friday as tensions boiled over while Burmese soldiers were returning the body of a Bangladeshi killed in a skirmish two days before, AFP has reported.

Citing Devdash Bhattacharya, the Bangladeshi police chief in the district of Bandarban, the report said that gunfire broke out on Friday afternoon when the Burmese border police failed to return the dead soldier’s body on time.

“Bhattacharya alleged the Myanmar Border Police took away the Bangladeshi soldier’s bullet-riddled body after they opened fire on his patrol team along the border on May 28,” AFP reported.

DVB learned earlier on Friday that the Burmese ambassador had already been summoned by the Foreign Affairs Department in Dhaka on Thursday to account for the clash; to demand a thorough investigation; and to demand that the man’s body and equipment be returned.

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Burmese authorities this month have reported three separate clashes in the border zone – on 13, 17 and 28 May. They have asserted each time that the gunmen, alleged to have also killed up to four Burmese police in one incident, were members of the armed group Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO).

Speaking to DVB on Friday ahead of the latest incident, Pol-Col Min Aung, the deputy-director of the Burmese Defence and Security Department in Naypyidaw, confirmed that a letter of complaint had been submitted by the Bangladeshi border guard command to its Burmese counterpart.

“We [Burmese and Bangladeshi border police] actually discussed the clashes at an earlier meeting,” he said. “Our officers raised the issue of the killing of four of our policemen, but the Bangladeshi delegation denied that the attackers were BGB [Border Guard Bangladesh].

“In that case, since only the BGB and RSO are active in this area, then if was not the BGB then it must have been the RSO.”

With regard to the skirmish on Wednesday in which a Bangladeshi soldier was killed, Min Aung said, “I don’t know much detail about the incident. However, usually the border guard units – when on patrol – can be identified by their flags or insignia. None of the men we encountered had insignia. They were in yellow camouflage uniforms without armbands. If they had been BGB they should have been wearing their insignia. They were shot at because they encroached on our territory without any identifiable insignia leading our troops to assume they were insurgents.”

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