At least two people were killed today as mortar shells fired from Myanmar landed in a village in across the border while 106 Burmese paramilitary border guards fled their posts and took refuge in Bangladesh in the past two days, officials said.
“One of the two slain people is a Bangladeshi woman while the other is a Rohingya man. They were killed at Japaitali area near the border,” deputy commissioner of bordering Bandarban Shah Mujahid Uddin told reporters.
Police said 50-year-old Hosne Ara, wife of local market trader Badshah Mia, was serving food to the unnamed 58-year-old ethnic Rohingya male day labourer when the shell hit, killing them instantly.
Boarder Guard Bangladesh (BGB) officials, meanwhile, said 38 more paramilitary Border Guard Police of Myanmar overnight crossed the border as fierce gunfights continued on the other side of the frontier between government troops and rebel Arakan Army.
“The number of BGP personnel in our (BGB) custody now stands at 106. Most of them brought with them their weapons which are kept at our cache,” a BGB spokesman told reporters in Dhaka.
He said several of them crossed the border with bullet wounds and were being treated at different hospitals including health facilities in Rohingya camps while doctors at Cox’s Bazar called the injuries of several to be critical.
Officials and residents at the bordering villages said Myanmar military helicopters continued strafing on Myanmar side of the border at Tombru region to support the government troops in land in their encounters with the rebel insurgents at their Rakhine state.
Myanmar’s Rakhine state has a border with Bangladesh stretching some 270-kilometre (167-mile) that witnesses frequent clashes since November, when the Arakan Army fighters ended a ceasefire that was largely enforced since a 2021 coup.
But today’s killing was the first such incident of casualties inside Bangladesh.
Security officials also called unprecedented the fleeing of the Myanmar’s BGP forces abandoning their posts amid the insurgency in their own land to take seek refuge to their BGB counterpart crossing the international border.
“Nearly a company of paramilitary troops crossed the international boundary and laid down their weapons to Bangladeshi border guards. This may have deep implication on geopolitics of the region for which Bangladesh need to prepare itself,” security analyst retired brigadier general Sakhawat Hossain said.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Sunday said that border guards from neighbouring Myanmar’s Rakhine state had “entered our territory for self-protection” and Bangladesh received them with a humanitarian gesture.
“The BGB informed the development to their Myanmar counterparts,” a BGB spokesman said.
Official said many of the Myanmar soldiers came to Bangladesh territory in combat uniform and weapons while others were in their plainclothes leaving as well their arms back home.
Bangladesh’s Refugee, Relief and Repatriation (RRR) commissioner Mohammad Mizanur Rahman said the fierce conflict forced over 400 Buddhist Rakhine people to take refuge near the border but BGB declined to allow them to enter into Bangladesh territory yet.
Officials said BGB personnel briefly detained a Rohingya couple with three minor children as they reached the zerolines of the border at Ulubunia frontier and later took them to their temporary custody.
Dhaka, on Sunday, expressed concerns as the skirmishes in its borders with Myanmar was affecting Bangladesh frontlines with Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader seeking Chinese intervention to deescalate the conflict in view of Beijing’s close contacts with Burmese authorities.
“The internal war is their (Myanmar’s) domestic concern. But when the sound of gunfights is heard in the border, naturally it creates panic in public mind. We, therefore, expected Beijing’s intervention,” Quader told newsmen after his meeting with the Chinese envoy.
BGB asked local residents to stay indoors or move cautiously for safety while the skirmishes in southern and northern parts of Tombru, also known by the same name in Myanmar, appeared to be fiercest so far. Tombru is located in Ghungdhum union of Naikhhangchhari upazila of Bandarban.
The Arakan Army recently forged an alliance with two other insurgent groups and in October last year they launched a joint offensive across northern Myanmar, seizing vital trade hubs on the Chinese border.
The alliance last month announced a China-mediated ceasefire, but it does not apply to areas near the Bangladesh and Indian borders.
Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar stretches 271.0 kilometres (168.4 miles), from the tri-point with India in the north, to the Bay of Bengal in the south.
Bangladesh played a critical role over a million Muslim minority Rohingyas who fled their home in Rakhine and took refuge in Bangladesh to evade persecution, particularly after a 2017 army crackdown but the current crisis visibly is little to do with the Rohingyas.
Bangladesh won praises for the handling of the world’s biggest refugee crisis while Dhaka repeatedly sought their repatriation to their homeland in Rakhine saying the Rohingyas were causing economic, social, security and environmental problems.
The issue is now the subject of a United Nations genocide investigation at the International Court of Justice.