A border guard commander in southeastern Bangladesh said Tuesday he had received no reports about a group of men firing across the frontier at four policemen in Maungdaw, a township in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, over the weekend.
Unidentified men fired more than 30 shots at the Myanmar officers from a hill in Bangladesh, about 300 feet from the border fence, according to a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA), a sister entity of BenarNews.
Police and the group exchanged gun fire, and one of the officers returned to Aung Thabyay police station on a motorbike to get reinforcements, RFA reported, citing information from the online journal The Irrawaddy. More than 20 officers traveled to the scene and rescued the three police during the incident on Sunday night.
“If any such incident occurs, as per protocol, the Myanmar side would inform us. In this case, we have received no such information from the other side. So there is no question of investigating it,” Col. M.M. Anisur Rahman, a sector commander for the Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) in Cox’s Bazar district, told BenarNews.
Maj. Ruhul Amin, a commander with Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion who is based in the southeastern district, also said he had no information about a cross-border shooting.
Earlier, Myanmar Border Guard Police said they had filed a complaint with their Bangladeshi counterparts, RFA reported.
“An armed group fired from the Bangladesh side, but nobody was injured,” Rakhine state police officer Aung Myat Moe said. “We can’t say which group they are from. We heard that three armed men were arrested at a security post in Bangladesh.”
During the past two months, Cox’s Bazar has borne the brunt of an unprecedented and ongoing influx of Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled an outbreak of violence in Rakhine state.
On the other side of the border, Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships in Rakhine were at the epicenter of alleged killings, rapes, massive acts of arson and other atrocities targeting Rohingya during a military crackdown launched in late August. It followed deadly raids on Aug. 25 against police outposts blamed on Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) insurgents.
At bilateral talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar last month in Naypyidaw, the Burmese side handed Bangladeshi officials a list of 500 suspected ARSA members who allegedly were hiding out on the other side of the border, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told BenarNews last week.
In Rakhine, state government spokesman Min Aung linked Sunday’s incident to a deadly attack in Daingnet, Rakhine, in late October, and the Aug. 25 raids that led to the crackdown and an exodus of more than 600,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh.
“I think they are related,” he said.
Commonwealth Parliamentarians issue call
Meanwhile in Dhaka, the 52 nations that make up the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) wrapped up an annual conference by jointly demanding international action to resolve the humanitarian crisis around the plight of the Rohingya, a stateless people.
In a statement on Tuesday, the member-nations called on “Myanmar to stop the violence and practice of ethnic cleansing in the Rakhine state immediately, unconditionally and indefinitely, and to ensure the sustainable return of all displaced Rohingya sheltered in Bangladesh and other countries to within the shortest possible time.”
The statement praised Bangladesh for opening its borders to the uprooted Rohingya and for helping to provide them with shelter, food, water and medical attention.
Tushar Tohin in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, and Kamran Reza Chowdhury in Dhaka contributed to this report.