Tensions are running high in the no man’s land between Bangladesh’s Konarpara and Myanmar’s Tambru border points, as heavily armed Myanmar security forces have been deployed there since Thursday.
More than 6,500 Rohingya refugees are encircled by armed personnel from both sides.
Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) also took position along the border, but the situation so far has not deteriorated, the BGB says.
Several senior BGB officials, who asked not to be named, confirmed that fresh troops had arrived at the border area on Friday.
BGB, led by the paramilitary force’s 34th battalion Commanding Officer Lt Col Monzurul Hassan Khan, held an emergency flag meeting with its Myanmar counterpart, Border Guard Police (BGP), at Bandarban’s Naikhongchhari on Friday afternoon.
However, around 15 minutes before the meeting, six more trucks full of Myanmar army personnel were reportedly deployed at Tambru border.
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Lt Col Monzurul Hassan Khan said: "We are on high alert and monitoring everything. The locals do not have reason to panic.”
Dil Mohammad, another leader of the Rohingyas stuck in the no man’s land, told the Dhaka Tribune BGB personnel are now on high alert after the addition deployment from the other side.
“Both sides are facing off with each other. We are encircled in the middle of the two heavily armed forces,” Mohammad said.
Khaled Hossain, a Rohingya leader, said: “On Wednesday night, the BGP tried to forcefully enter the no man's land but they retreated when the aggrieved Rohingyas began hurling brickbats. In the evening the army personnel fired multiple rounds.”
Another Rohingya leader, Arif Uddin said: "After meeting the Divisional Commissioner on February 20, Myanmar authorities agreed to take us back. But now they are trying to push us inside Bangladesh without any reason.”
“We do not think they are keen to take us back. We do not trust them,” the leader added.
Over 6,500 Rohingya protesters from Tambru’s no man’s land are reportedly among the 8,032 named in the initial repatriation list, which the Bangladesh government handed over to Myanmar last month.
Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP) and army men also issued warnings using loudspeakers and asked the Rohingyas to leave the no man’s land – a tactic they have been using over the past months.
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Bangladeshi locals at Gumdum’s Tambru, Konarpara, and other adjacent areas said the military action led them to become tense, and such sudden movement from Myanmar security forces may hamper the repatriation process.
Nurul Amin, a Bangladeshi living nearby the border point said: "We are very much worried about the current condition. We are uncertain about further movements from Myanmar troops.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already summoned the newly-appointed Myanmar Ambassador in Dhaka, Lwin Oo, over his country’s military build-up on Thursday afternoon.
The Myanmar army and BGP’s move came two days after three Nobel Peace laureates – Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, and Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland – visited the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar and Tambru border point from February 25 to 27.
More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed into Bangladesh over the past six months, joining more than 400,000 others who were already living in cramped makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar.