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Escaping ethnic trouble, 280 Myanmar tribals seek shelter in Mizoram

IANS | Aizawl |

At least 280 people, mostly women and children, from Myanmar have taken shelter in two villages in Mizoram allegedly fearing ethnic trouble at home, an official said here on Tuesday.

"Around 280 people from Myanmar's Ralie village in Arakan area have taken shelter at Lungpuk and Khalkhy mountainous villages in Saiha district since late Friday," a Mizoram home department official said.

Assam Rifles troopers posted along the Myanmar border areas and the Saiha district administration provided necessary aid and support, including food, to the refugees.

"The local tribal villagers of the two villages also made arrangements for food and lodging for the hepless people," the official added.

Senior Mizoram police and Assam Rifles officials have immediately rushed to the bordering areas and are supervising the situation.

Assam Rifles sources said the refugees fled their villages following imminent conflict between the outlawed Arakan Army militants and the Myanmar Army.

The Assam Rifles officials had informed the Myanmar Army and requested them to ensure safety of the refugees in Myanmar.

Arakan Army terror group, who held back male members of the fleeing refugees intermittently, engaged in skirmishes with the Myanmar Army.

Mizoram Home Minister R Lalzirliana said in Aizawl that the refugees are being taken care of by the state government and the matter has been conveyed to the Union Home Ministry.

The refugees are now sheltered at community halls and a nearby school.

Mizoram shares an unfenced 510-km border with Myanmar and 318 km with Bangladesh, providing infiltrators, terrorists and smugglers an opportunity to illegally move across the border.

There is a 16-km-wide free zone (8 km on either side of the frontier) along the 1,643-km unfenced India-Myanmar border.

Four Northeastern states — Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Manipur (398 km), Nagaland (215 km) and Mizoram (510 km) — share the 1,643-km mountainous border with Myanmar.