A landmine explosion along Bangladesh’s southeastern border killed a Buddhist tribesman and injured five members of his family Thursday as they tried to sneak into Myanmar, officials said.
Col. Iqbal Hossain, a Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) sector commander, identified the victim as Pawai Mro, 45, a resident of Bandarban, a district in the southeast where many members of local hill tribes practice Buddhism. It is a minority religion in Bangladesh but the dominant one in neighboring Myanmar.
“We, with the help of the BGB, rescued the injured family members of Pawai Mro. They have been undergoing treatment at a local army camp,” Hossain told BenarNews. “They were trying to cross into Myanmar.”
Pawai is one of 12 people who have been killed in landmine explosions along the border since early September, Bangladeshi officials said. The mines were placed in an apparent bid to stop Rohingya people from returning to Myanmar, they said.
The dozen killed by landmine blasts were five Bangladeshis and seven Rohingya, said Aslam Hossain, the deputy commissioner of Bandarban.
“International law prohibits planting landmines along the border,” he told BenarNews.
Former Bangladesh Ambassador to Myanmar Anup Kumar Chakma, who is Buddhist, told BenarNews that a cross-border syndicate of human traffickers had emerged along the border following a massive Rohingya exodus from Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Close to 700,000 Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh since late August 2017 as they fled a brutal crackdown by Myanmar’s military that followed attacks by a Rohingya insurgent group.
The syndicate had lured poor and illiterate Buddhists with the promise of a better future in Myanmar, Chakma said.
“The Buddhists in Bangladesh have not been facing [violence], they have been in peace. But their escape is a matter of concern for us. This issue will further strain the bilateral relations with Myanmar,” Chakma said.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Asaduzzaman Chowdhury, BGB battalion commander in Teknaf, a local sub-district, told BenarNews that his forces and Myanmar’s Border Guard Police launched a joint patrol Tuesday along the Naaf River, which divides the two countries.
He said the patrol aimed to stop drug smuggling, human trafficking and illegal movement of people from both sides.
“Currently, we cannot do it regularly. It will go on at intervals. We may start another joint patrol on Friday,” he said.