Thousands of rounds of bullets were exchanged in a two-day-long gun battle between members of Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) and Myanmar’s Luntin Force (riot police) at Naikhongchori of the Bangladesh-Myanmar frontier.
The shooting started on Wednesday night at around 9:00pm in the area between pillar no. 54 and 55 at Panchori Goritola area under Dochori union and went on at regular intervals until Thursday afternoon, said locals.
The sound of gunfire spread panic in Bangladeshi territory and many people took safe shelters to avoid bullets during the shootout.
“We are very frightened upon hearing the sound of gunshots inside Bangladeshi territory. And we needed immediate protection,” a local of the Panchori area said.
Officer-in-charge of Naikhongchori Police Station Rafiqul Islam said: “We heard from locals that a gunfight erupted on Wednesday night. It’s true that it happened, but it happened on Myanmar soil.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune UP Chairman of Hochori Rashid Ahammad, however, said locals had told him about a fierce gunfight between a militant group and Luntin force on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
Meanwhile, a few militant outfits including the RSO are trying to reorganise in the bordering area ever since the withdrawal of Myanmar’s Nasaka, the Myanmar’s border security force, from Bandarban-Myanmar border on July 12, some locals said.
The armed confrontation between the RSO and the Luntin is nothing but a part of the outfits’ efforts to gain a foothold, they said.
Back in 1991, the Myanmar government replaced the Luntin with Nasaka to supervise the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The specialised Nasaka was made up of members from military, police and customs, but the Myanmar government recently disbanded the force for its abusive practices and serious violations of human rights committed against the Rohingya community.
Following the abolishment of the Nasaka the Myanmar government once again decided to entrust Luntin with the task of securing its border.
However, slow deployment of Luntin in place of Nasaka along the border has given Rohingya militants an opportunity to reorganise themselves, many locals said.
On July 31, BGB arrested two RSO commanders Shariful Islam and Ziaul Haque from remote Gorainnakata area of Dochori union as they were distributing relief among Rohingyas.
The RSO has recently increased its activities by targeting the poor Rohingyas in the remote hilly areas on the frontier and tactfully providing them with food, shelter and training.
The outfit is said to have taken advantage of the relatively slack security measures on the border ahead of the national election in Bangladesh and in the absence of Nasaka.
Many residents of Panchori and Dochori area, preferring anonymity, said they had seen some RSO members with heavy weapons flocking near pillar no. 54 and 55 on Wednesday noon.
Around evening, they went to the barbed wire fence of the border and tried to enter into Myanmar and that is when the fighting ensued.
A local public representative, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there is an RSO camp at Waksa Khali Jhiri area under Dochori union where at least 150 RSO members reside.
All of them are equipped with firearms while some members of radical organisations have already taken training from the camp.
Naikhongchori BGB Battalion Commander Lt Col Mehedi Hasan said they would start operations against the militants once they had specific information about their camps on the frontier.