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Panic in the air as Myanmar army choppers engage insurgents close to Ghumdhum

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 12th October, 2022 08:25:39 AM
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Panic in the air as Myanmar army choppers engage insurgents close to Ghumdhum

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Cox’s Bazar: A sense of panic has spread through the residents of Bandarban’s Naikhongchhari  upazila, after Myanmar air force helicopters engaged in bouts of heavy firing on their side of the Ghumdhum border on both Monday and Tuesday.

Although no one has been hurt on Bangladesh soil, some stray gunfire did make into Bangladesh territory by pillars numbered 18, 31, 34, and 35 – all part of the border in Ghundhum, reports UNB.

Stray bullets also made it into Bangladesh between pillar nos. 45 and 46 in Bandarban Sadar.

Md Nurul Amin, a local Union Parishad member, said the Myanmar air force commenced this latest round of operations around 4pm on Monday, almost immediately after Major General Shakil Ahmed, DG of Border Guards Bangladesh, completed a trip to the region. The firing was said to continue for 15 hours straight on that occasion, till 7am today.

After that, Mohd. Alam, member of Ward no.3 within Ghumdhum, said they had heard three more rounds of shelling from the air over an 8-hour period till 3pm on Tuesday.

Besides, the witnesses had all been also hearing the sounds of firing taking place inside Myanmar territory, said the member.

Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, has long been fighting to suppress a bloody insurgency in its bordering state of Rakhine, waged by an ethnic group calling itself the Arakan Army.

In the last few months, the Myanmar army has been engaged in trying to bring about an endgame to the standoff, leading to a flare-up in the conflict that has increasingly spilled over into Bangladesh.

Meanwhile in Bandarban, local businessman Md Sarwar said he along with his family and neighbours are all feeling anxious about their own security, despite knowing that Myanmar is battling a different enemy.

“You can never be sure what Myanmar are up to, or what their real intentions are,” said Sarwar, speaking words that everyone may be well-advised to heed.

Preferring anonymity, some BGB officials said they were beefing up security measures to tackle any untoward incident stemming from the Myanmar side.

As the fighting in Rakhine has escalated, so has the scale and frequency of these incidents along the border. Since September 16, two Bangladeshi youths have lost limbs stepping on landmines laid by the Tatmadaw dangerously close to the international border.

Earlier this month, a Rohingya teen named Omar Farook, resident of one of the refugee camps inside Bangladesh or occupying the No Man’s Land between two sovereign territories, was also killed in a landmine explosion.

Last month another Rohingya known as Md Iqbal was killed, when Myanmar ‘mistakenly’ shelled the Zero Point Refugee Camp. That also resulted in a mini-exodus of refugees into Bangladesh.