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Fresh fighting in Myanmar frightens villagers

Sources said residents of 31 villages in three unions of Ukhiya, Teknaf and Naikkhangchhari upazilas heard this early Friday.

FM Mizanur Rahaman/ The Daily Star/ ANN | Bangladesh |

Villagers in three unions of Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar are living in fear as they heard fresh gunshots and shelling inside Myanmar where a fight between the Myanmar Army and Arakan Army rages on.

Sources said residents of 31 villages in three unions of Ukhiya, Teknaf and Naikkhangchhari upazilas heard this early Friday.

Nur Ahmed Anwari, chairman of Whykhong Union Parishad in Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar, told The Daily Star that fear gripped around 500 families of three villages of the union, and the villagers were asked to move carefully.

“BGB members are patrolling the embankment of the Naf river.”

“However, the gunfire stopped on Friday night,” he added.

Jahangir Aziz, chairman of Ghumdhum Union Parishad in Naikkhangchhari upazila of Bandarban, told The Daily Star, “We heard the gunshots and the sound of heavy explosion near pillar No 39 and 40 along Tumbru border.”

Imran Hossain Sajib, Ukhiya upazila nirbahi officer, said 100 families are living in three wards of Palongkhali union within 300 metres of Bangladesh- Myanmar border. “After starting the heavy fight on the other side of the border again, the villagers got panicked.”

Col Mehedi Hasan Kabir, commanding officer of 34 BGB Battalion, said, “We have kept our force on alert and increased patrolling. The shooting and shelling took place inside Myanmar. So, there is nothing to be worried about.”

According to the local administration, over 4,000 Rohingyas who fled Myanmar fearing persecution by Myanmar security forces in 2017 are living in a Rohingya camp on the no-man’s-land between Tumbru Bazar’s Konarpara and Rakhine State borderline.

The Arakan Army, a Myanmar separatist group, has been fighting with Myanmar security forces in the country’s Rakhine State close to Ghumdhum border in Naikhongchhari upazila for more than a month.

During this fight, mortar shells have landed inside Bangladesh territory multiple times from Myanmar.