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Bangladesh was alert against Myanmar’s provocations:Hasina

IANS | Dhaka |

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said her government was very cautious and did not respond to any provocations by Myanmar, thereby defusing tensions between the two neighbours in the wake of a mass exodus of Rohingyas from Rakhine State.

“Our nearest neighbour, at one point, showed such an attitude that there will be a war with us. I alerted our army, border guards and police so that they must not get confused with any provocation as long as I don’t order them,” Hasina said on Saturday, Dhaka Tribune reported.

She was speaking at a reception accorded to her by her Awami League party at the VVIP lounge of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on her return after her three-week visit to the US and Britain.

Hasina said Myanmar wanted to create a situation to divert global attention. “We are very much alert about that.”

More than half a million Rohingyas have fled across the border to Bangladesh since a counter-insurgency offensive by Myanmar’s army in the wake of militant attacks on security forces in late August.

The UN has described Myanmar’s strategy as “ethnic cleansing”.

During the first few days of the latest influx, Bangladesh kept its border closed but later decided to open it up to Rohingyas.

“There are various quarters who would try to create a situation to divert the attention. We were very careful about that,” she said.

Hasina, however, thanked Myanmar for coming forward to start the discussion on taking back Rohingyas. “I think this is a special aspect. I think there’s an international pressure (on them) … we will be able to solve the problem gradually through discussions.”

International aid agencies say some 515,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh in six weeks since the end of August.

On Friday, the United Nations said that is bracing for a possible ‘further exodus’.

An estimated 2,000 Rohingyas are arriving in Bangladesh a day, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Friday.