Myanmar border guards flee to Bangladesh amid clashes with rebels


Dhaka, Feb 5
At least 95 Myanmar border guards, some of them wounded, have fled to Bangladesh over the last few days as fighting intensifies between rebel forces in Myanmar and the junta regime, officials in Bangladesh said on Monday.
Since mounting a coup against an elected government in 2021, the junta is facing its biggest challenge, trying to contain a bloody rebellion which has seen allied anti-junta groups backed by a pro-democracy parallel government seize control of several military posts and towns.
The sound of gunfire could be heard from across the Myanmar border in Bangladesh's southeastern tourist district of Cox's Bazar, where nearly one million members of the Muslim minority from Myanmar live in bamboo-and-plastic hut camps after fleeing a military crackdown there in 2017.
Members of the Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) entered Bangladesh with their weapons and 15 of them had bullet wounds when they crossed the border, Shariful Islam, a spokesman for Border Guard Bangladesh, said on Monday, adding that the wounded received treatment at different hospitals.
The BGP troops could be accommodated in the nearby district of Bandarban before they are sent back to Myanmar, said Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, Bangladesh's refugee relief and repatriation commissioner based in Cox's Bazar.
"I have been asked if the BGP can be sheltered safely in transit camps that were built in Bandarban for repatriating Rohingya refugees. The camps are empty," Rahman said.
Bullets and mortar shells from across the Myanmar border landed on Bangladesh territory on Monday, killing at least two people, a government official in Cox's Bazar said.
"A Bangladeshi woman and a Rohingya were killed and a child injured near the border by a mortar shell fired from Myanmar," said Mohammad Shamsud Douza, the deputy Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees.
Many residents on the Bangladeshi side of the border have fled to the houses of relatives further away from violence out of fear, he said.
Panic has gripped the refugee camps in Myanmar with many waiting to cross over to Bangladesh as supply chains have been cut off due to the ongoing conflict, according to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
"Now and then we hear the sound of gunshots from Myanmar. Some of the Rohingya Muslims want to flee here as they are living in constant fear without basic needs," Rohingya refugee Oli Hossain said.
"Even we are living in fear because of the sound of gunshots." Reuters