Bangladesh says over 113 members of Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP) have crossed the border at Tumbru in Chittagong division and taken shelter in the country. This is the first time that Myanmar forces have sought sanctuary in Bangladesh since an alliance of ethnic minority armies in Myanmar launched an offensive against the military government late last year.
Heavy fighting was reported between the junta forces and the rebel Arakan Army with mortar shells landing in Bangladesh over the last two days. Yesterday, a woman was killed when a mortar shell fired from Myanmar exploded in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud said he had been assured by the Myanmar foreign ministry that their personnel would be taken back. Dhaka also said it had sent a “note verbale” to the Myanmar ambassador, complaining about the fighting spilling over into Bangladesh.
The Arakan Army is the military wing of the Rakhine ethnic minority that seeks autonomy from Myanmar’s central government. It is part of an alliance of ethnic minority armies fighting the junta. It launched a major offensive in October and has gained a strategic foothold in Myanmar’s northeast territory, which borders Bangladesh. This is seen as a major defeat for the government.
India has seen a similar influx of Myanmar military and police personnel, with 276 crossing the border into Mizoram last month. They were returned in batches.