by The Bangla Herald
Myanmar Border: Bangladesh consulate in Switte moved to Yangon

The Bangladesh consulate in Rakhine’s capital Switte will be relocated to Yangon this week following the evacuation of UN and international aid officials amid an escalation in the fighting between the Arakan Army and Myanmar military.

“Our consul in Switte will be moving to Yangon temporarily because of the security situation. The Indian consul in Switte as well as foreign staffers of the UN and other international agencies have also been relocated,” said a diplomatic source.

The move comes as fighting in Rakhine intensifies.

Those living in Naikhongchhari of Bandarban and Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas in Cox’s Bazar are in constant fear due to conflicts just across the border.

In Teknaf’s Whykong union, locals yesterday woke up to loud sounds of gunfire and mortar shell explosions at regular intervals.

The sounds went on for four hours until 9:00pm, while bullets from Myanmar landed inside homes on this side of the border.

Sirajul Mostafa, a member of ward-2 of Whykong Union Parishad, said, “Three of us were walking through Konarpara after Fajr prayers. At that time, I heard the sound of at least 100 gunshots from the other side of the border.

“Bullets have also landed in several houses in Uttarpara. However, no casualties have been reported so far.”

Locals had also spotted a body on the Balukhali canal, which later floated away in the Naf river.

Meanwhile, police yesterday recovered a man’s bullet-ridden body that had been lying on the border area for the last two days from Rahmater Beel area in Ukhiya. No one has yet identified the victim.

In Ghumdhum of Bandarban’s Naikhongchhari, another unexploded mortar shell was recovered from a paddy field yesterday morning. It was first spotted by a local farmer around 8:30am.

The BGB kept the shell on an empty spot next to a road for safety purposes and restricted movement there.

The two previous days, another such mortar shell and a rocket-propelled grenade were recovered from two different fields in the same area.

Meanwhile, 23 displaced Rohingyas, who entered Bangladesh with firearms, were sent to jail upon a court order yesterday.

The BGB handed over the accused to the police with 12-15 weapons after a case was filed against them on Friday.

Meanwhile, pro-Rakhine newspaper The Irrawady on Friday reported that the Arakan Army (AA) seized the last remaining Myanmar junta stronghold in the historic city of Mrauk U in the Rakine State.

AA fighters have captured over 200 installations, including both large and small camps, as well as many battalions.

The rebel group now controls Pauktaw, Minbya, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U and Paletwa townships.

Moreover, it has gained control over Taung Pyo Let Wae and Taung Pyo Let Yar towns of the Maungdaw locality, adjacent to the Bangladesh border.

The fighting in Rakhine State has forced at least 330 members of the country’s Border Guard Police (BGP) and Immigration, and their family members, to flee to Bangladesh early last week. This prompted the BGP to increase surveillance along the 270km-long Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

So far, two people in Bangladesh were killed as mortar shells landed on this side of the border from Myanmar. Sounds of mortar shell explosion and bullet firing along the border has caused panic among locals living near the border in Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar.

Dhaka has issued strong protest letter against the spillover of the Myanmar conflicts into Bangladesh and urged Naypyidaw to take back the 330 members of Myanmar security forces.

Myanmar agreed to take them back through a Navy ship, which is ready to sail on the Bangladesh coast.

However, the process requires permission from Bangladesh’s Armed Forces Division, BGB and Home Ministry.

“We are expecting that the Myanmar ship will come to Bangladesh this week after completing all the procedures,” a foreign ministry official told The Daily Star yesterday.

Officials concerned said Bangladesh needs to find out the number of crew members on the ship and whether fuel or other logistics would be required when the ship is here.

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