Bangladesh tightens security as ethnic tensions fuel in Myanmar's border region

Attacks?by Buddhist nationalists on the Rohingya population in the past have?resulted in pushback of thousands of the minority group into Bangladesh. Photograph:( Getty )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 11, 2016, 03.05 PM (IST) Saad Hammadi

Bangladesh has increased its vigilance across the borders with Myanmar following counter-attacks by Myanmar’s security forces on Monday after terrorists killed nine border police officials, Colonel Zillur Rahman, director of operations at Border Guard Bangladesh told WION.

“We are alert. We have increased our patrol activities,” said Col Rahman.

Myanmar’s security forces killed eight suspected attackers on Monday in raids across Maungdaw, in retaliation for both the killing of nine members of the country’s police and seisure of a large stash of weapons and ammunition a day before, reported Reuters.

The region, home to Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim population, is close to the border shared with Bangladesh, where many Rohingya members have become refugees due to repression and ethnic cleansing of the community in the Buddhist-majority country.

Reuters reported more than 100 people were killed on Sunday in clashes between Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, making the incident the bloodiest since 2012. At least 300 Rohingya Muslims were killed and thousands sought shelter in Bangladesh after a sectarian clash set off by the rape and killing of a Buddhist woman in 2012.

“It is not happening all of a sudden. There has to be a political objective behind this. I find this ominous because it is a concern for both countries,” said Rashed Zaman, a professor of International Relations at the University of Dhaka.

Separatist groups, such as Rohingya Solidarity Organisation, carried out attacks in August at a border outpost in Bangladesh and looted arms and ammunition.

“Smuggling of drugs and weapons will have border implications,” Zaman tells WION, adding that this will create tensions in the bilateral relation between the two countries. Attacks by Buddhist nationalists on the Rohingya population in the past have resulted in pushback of thousands of the minority group into Bangladesh.

Buddhist nationalists in Myanmar classify stateless Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even while members of the community say they have lived in Myanmar for generations. In August, Aung San Suu Kyi’s government formed an advisory committee headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Anan to alleviate sectarian tension in the Rakhine State.