The Bangladesh Special Force (BANSF) has been working round-the-clock to maintain peace and political stability alongside other international peacekeepers in the tumultuous Central African Republic (CAR) since 2016.
Volatility has been a salient feature of CAR ever since it gained independence from France in 1960. Although the landlocked country is rich in natural resources, such as diamonds, gold, oil and uranium, it has one of the poorest populations in the world.
The country has been rocked by violence in recent years. The Security Council, concerned with security, humanitarian, human rights and political crisis in the CAR, established MINUSCA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Central African Republic) in 2014.
BANSF, a highly-skilled commando company of Bangladesh Army, works under the Force Commander of MINUSCA. Currently, BANSF is the third contingent from Bangladesh.
Last month, it carried out a mission, codenamed ‘Operation BEKPA 2’, in Bambari, some 380 kilometers east of capital Bangui. The Special Force thwarted an attempt to unleash violence by local armed group UPC – Union for Peace in the Central African Republic.
The situation in Bambari deteriorated several weeks ago after UPC killed two police officers ahead of a scheduled visit by CAR President Faustin-ArchangeTouadéra.
MINUSCA’s drones showed 30 to 40 UPC fighters attempting to prevent the advance of FACA (CAR army) and Gendarmerie (police force of CAR) in the city dominated by the armed group.
BANSF, along with Portuguese and Nepalese peacekeepers, launched ‘Operation BEKPA 2’ on January 17. The operation, starting 8am (local time), lasted eight hours.
UPC members put up resistance with heavy machine guns, rocket launchers and grenades, but the Special Forces pushed forward. They forced UPC members to flee leaving behind firearms and ammunition.
BANSF destroyed an ammunition dump and recovered a huge cache of rocket launchers, rifles, uniforms, and locally-made weapons. All UPC shelters were destroyed by Bangladesh Special Force during the operation.
The commandos also captured three suspected UPC members, and handed them over to local authorities. A number of documents related to activities of the militant leaders were also recovered.
There was hardly any presence of the armed element after the successful operation and the locals were elated. MINUSCA’s Force Commander Lt Gen Balla Keita sent a letter of appreciation.
No Bangladeshi commando was injured or killed during the mission, Major Md Shahidul Islam, the commander of ‘Operation BEKPA 2’, told a seven-member visiting Bangladesh delegation during a presentation about activities of BANSF at M’POKO Green Field BANSF Camp in Bangui.
The seven-member delegation, led by Maj Gen Md Masud Razzaq, has been visiting CAR in UN missions areas as a part of ‘goodwill visit’. Brig Gen Kh Md Mozammel Haque is also included in the delegation.
Maj Islam said they would conduct similar operations if the armed group tried to make a comeback to the area.