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Dhaka Tribune

8 killed in gunfight between KNF factions in Bandarban

The KNF blamed a reformist group for the incident

Update : 07 Apr 2023, 11:46 PM

Eight people have been killed in a gunfight between two factions of the notorious separatist group Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) in Rowangchhari Upazila of Bandarban.

The incident took place in Khamtang Para late on Thursday, Rowangchhari Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Md Khorshed Alam Chowdhury said.

The names of seven of the deceased are Van Du Bom, Sang Khum, San Phir Thang Bom, Boy Rem Bom, Jahim Bom, Lal Lian Ngak Bom, and Lal Tha Jar Bom.

Based on an inspection of their clothes, the deceased are believed to be members of the Kuki Chin National Army (KNA), the armed wing of the KNF. It is suspected that the opposition armed group took heavy weapons that the deceased were carrying.

The KNF in a social media post claimed that just seven people were killed in the gunfight. They blamed a reformist group for the incident, without mentioning any name. 

Locals said they heard on-and-off gunshots from Thursday evening till Friday morning. They claimed the gunfight took place between KNF and United People's Democratic Front (UPDF-reformist).

In the morning, after the shooting stopped, the locals found eight bodies and contacted the police. Police then went to the spot and recovered the bodies.

Abdul Mannan, officer-in-charge (OC) of Rowangchhari police station, said the bullet-riddled bodies were taken to the Bandarban Zila Sadar Hospital morgue. The bodies will be handed over to their families after autopsy.

Highest death toll 

According to locals, on the morning of July 7, 2020, six members of Jana Samhati Samiti (Reformist-MN Larma) were shot to death at Baghmara of Bandarban Sadar upazila.

The deceased were identified as Ratan Tanchangya, Bandarban unit president, David Marma, a member of the executive committee and Bimol Kanti Chakma, vice president of the central committee, Robin Chakma, Ripon Tripura and Gyan Tripura, all members of Jubo Samiti, a front organization of Jana Samhati Samiti (Reformist-MN Larma).

The deaths reported on Thursday are the highest in an armed incident in the area since the July 2020 incident.

Recent attacks

On March 12 this year, a senior army warrant officer was killed and two other soldiers suffered injuries when members of KNA opened fire on a patrol team in Rowangchhari upazila of Bandarban.

The deceased was identified as Master Warrant Officer Nazim Uddin, son of late Shamser Ali of Ghaghatpara village of Rangpur Sadar upazila.

On March 15, KNF members abducted nine people, including Sergeant (Retd) Anwar Hossain, while they were working on the road in the Longthasi Jhiri area of Ruma. 

In a message on March 18, the KNF claimed that 30 people from the Bom community were detained by the joint forces from September 9 till March, and demanded their release. They threatened to kill Anwar Hossain if the KNF members were not released.

On March 18, the KNF claimed that land mines and bomb traps had been laid in its “territory.” 

On the other hand, the joint forces said that 68 militants of Jama'atul Ansar and several KNF members were arrested during the operation.

People leaving homes in fear

After Thursday's incident, some 175 families in the neighborhood have taken refuge in Rowangchhari Government High School. 

Rowangchhari UNO Khorshed Alam said: "Some 175 families in that neighborhood have taken refuge in Rowangchhari Government High School in fear. Upazila administration is taking care of them. They will be sent back when the area is safe.”

Manik Khiang, a shopkeeper in the Khamtam neighborhood, said: "There was a shooting incident between two groups on Thursday evening. At that time, many people left their homes in fear. So far, I have learned that more than 50 families have left their homes. Many of them have taken refuge in nearby educational institutions.”

Dhaka Tribune

U Hlang Mong Marma, chairman of Paindu Union Parishad of Ruma upazila said: "Some 40 women and children have taken shelter at Bom Community Center of Sadar upazila. They have been accommodated.” 

Since November 15 last year, at least 548 people from 132 families have taken refuge in Mizoram. On January 28, some 140 Marma women, men and children took refuge in Ruma Sadar from Mulpi Para, but they returned to their homes on February 5. 

On March 10, around 220 people of 56 families from Barathli 4 Union of Rangamati's Bilaichhari took shelter in Tangchangya Reichha and Rowangchhari Sadar Upazila in fear of the armed activities by KNF members.

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