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Bangladesh worried by Myanmar border deployments

Myanmar’s soldiers in a parade to mark the country’s 74th Armed Forces Day in Naypyidaw, March 27, 2019. Photo: AFP/Thet Aung. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NAYPYITAW, Sep 16, 2020, The Irrawaddy. Myanmar’s military has beefed up security along the Bangladeshi border, citing increased activities by the Arakan Army (AA) and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), The Irrawaddy reported.

“There have been increased activities by the AA and ARSA in Buthidaung and Maungdaw. So we are carrying out more security work than normal. We have particularly increased security on the land border,” military spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy.

The military has declared both the AA and ARSA terrorist organizations. The AA is currently engaged in ongoing fighting with Myanmar’s military in northern Rakhine.

ARSA launched a series of attacks on security outposts in northern Rakhine on Aug. 25, 2017, killing 12 security personnel. The attacks prompted the military to carry out clearance operations that forced an estimated 730,000 Rohingya into neighboring Bangladesh. Myanmar has since come under international pressure over the mass exodus of Rohingya.

On Sunday, the Bangladeshi foreign ministry summoned Myanmar’s ambassador in Dhaka and expressed concerns about the border deployments.

“We have expressed our concerns over the movement of troops near the border,” Delwar Hossain, the director-general of Myanmar affairs at the foreign ministry in Dhaka, was quoted saying by the Bangla Tribune on Sunday.

The Dhaka Tribune also reported that Myanmar deployed over 2,500 troops along the border. According to Bangladeshi intelligence, Myanmar deployed additional troops and weapons under the pretext of suppressing the AA.

“We are just doing this for the security of our territory. As we are just carrying out security work in response to our intelligence about the enemy and I don’t think it will affect bilateral relations,” said Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun.

Myanmar’s navy conducts regular patrols along the Naf River, which marks the border, and in nearby coastal waters. Land patrols have also increased.

According to information acquired by The Irrawaddy, the Bangladeshi Foreign Affairs Ministry invited Myanmar’s ambassador for a casual conversation but then issued the warning.

“Myanmar has increased patrols and security work in response to intelligence. Perhaps they expressed their concerns in response to that,” said Maj-Gen Zaw Min Tun.

Analyst and former military officer Dr. Aung Myo told The Irrawaddy: “It is good that the Tatmadaw [military] has made it clear that the deployments are not to threaten the sovereignty of Bangladesh but to prevent the possible threats. The two countries do not need to end up in a dispute.”

The Irrawaddy was not able to obtain comments from the President’s Office or Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the Bangladeshi warning.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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