Bangladesh warns to counterfire if cross-border shooting from Myanmar doesn't stop

Bangladesh warns to counterfire if cross-border shooting from Myanmar doesn't stop

Dhaka warns Myanmar Army, Arakan Army rebels amid growing internal conflict

By SM Najmus Sakib

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Bangladesh has warned it would counterfire amid repeated cross-border shooting from Myanmar along the transboundary Naf River.

“We have informed the Myanmar Army and Arakan Army not to open fire at Bangladesh. If not, we will fire back,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters in Dhaka on Thursday.

Various ethnic groups are fighting Myanmar’s military junta and Bangladesh border guards have mistakenly been shot at on occasions.

“What they (Myanmar) are saying is that if the flag of Bangladesh flies, no one will shoot,” he added.

Khan added that the Arakan Army rebels have reportedly captured many areas in the Arakan State, forcing some Myanmar border force members to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

The spillover of Myanmar’s internal conflict has also disrupted passenger and goods traffic along the Naf River, cutting off communication between southeastern Cox’s Bazar district in mainland Bangladesh and St. Martin Island in the Bay of Bengal. It has also created food supply shortages on the island.

Gun battles along the Naf, the only river that runs between Bangladesh and Myanmar, have continued for over a week since June 7.

The Bangladeshi minister added that the river has lost navigability in some areas on the route between Bangladesh’s Teknaf and St. Martin. As a result, Bangladeshi boats at some points pass through Myanmar’s waters and that has caused the recent firing.

Although no fresh incidents have been reported, the minister urged caution for those using the route.

St. Martin is Bangladesh’s only coral island. It has an area of about 3 square kilometers (1.15 miles) with a population of 11,000. It is located in the northeastern Bay of Bengal around 9 kilometers off mainland Bangladesh. Its natural beauty makes it one of the top tourist destinations in the country.

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