Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bangladesh-Myanmar tension escalates


Even as tension escalates between Bangladesh and Burma, the Bangladeshi Army Chief Lt Gen Abdul Mubin visited Alikadam in Bandarban district, near the border with Burma, on Monday evening to review the latest situation, border sources said.

A source on the Burma-Bangladesh border said, the Army Chief made a surprise visit at about 3 p.m. and spoke to army officers.“The Army Chief arrived in Alikadam yesterday and talked to army officers stationed here. Both Burma and Bangladesh have mobilized more troops and the situation is tense,” the source told Mizzima.

Another source on the border said at least 700 Bangladeshi soldiers have been positioned near the Burma-Bangladesh border since Monday.A report by the Dhaka-based Daily Star, quoting defence sources on Monday said, tension between Burma and Bangladesh has escalated with the Burmese military regime bringing in tanks, artillery, 13 warships and a frigate on Sunday.

The Bangladesh Ministry of Defence as well as the army and the Bangladesh Military Intelligence (BMI) have all refused to comment on the situation saying “We are not authorized.”Tin Soe, Assistant Editor of the Chittagong-based Burmese News Agency the Kaladan Press Network on Tuesday said, Bangladesh, which already has its border security forces the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) deployed in the region are bringing in at least four army battalions.“Our sources in the military said Bangladesh is bringing in at least four army battalions and the Burmese are said to be reinforcing with about four to five battalions,” Tin Soe said. He said a Bangladesh navy frigate, which is normally stationed in Chittagong is now patrolling the area.

The Daily Star on Tuesday, quoting a naval officer stationed in Chittagong, reported that a frigate of the Bangladesh Navy BNS Abu Bakar is patrolling the sea near the disputed area where Burma had tried to set up rigs last November for exploration.Meanwhile, sources said Burmese soldiers have begun work on fencing the border in Maungdaw Township of Arakan State.

Sources said while the Burmese military government has suddenly increased military presence along the border in recent days, it is still not clear whether Burma is bringing in more troops for fencing the border or because of its maritime dispute with Bangladesh.