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Mortars fired from Myanmar side of border with Bangladesh kill Rohingya youth

At least one Rohingya youth was killed and several more young refugees were injured when two mortar shells reportedly fired from the Myanmar side fell and exploded in the no-man’s land along Bangladesh’s southeastern border Friday night, Bangladeshi police said.

The youths were all refugees from a camp in the no-man’s land on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, Additional Superintendent of Police (Sadar Circle) of Bandarban, Md. Reza Sarwar, told BenarNews. The incident occurred amid reports of intense fighting near the Myanmar side of the border lately between Burmese junta forces and rebels in neighboring Rakhine state.

The police official said at least five injured Rohingya were admitted to local hospitals. The youth who died in the incident was identified as Mohammad Iqbal, 18, son of Matlab Hossain.

The shells reportedly landed in an area that borders Bangladesh’s Bandarban district, Reza Sarwar added.

A Rohingya resident from the area, Dil Mohammad, said the shells were fired around 8:30 p.m. Friday.

Another resident Md. Kamal concurred.

“Two mortar shells landed in no-man’s land at the time. And we were hearing sounds of shelling from afternoon to night. People are scared in the neighborhood,” he told BenarNews.

Bangladeshi officials say more than 4,000 Rohingya refugees have been living in no-man’s land for the last five years since a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar military forced the ethnic minority to flee their homes in August 2017. Some 740,000 Rohingya crossed the frontier and took refuge in camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district.  

Lt. Col. Faizur Rahman, director (operations) of the Border Guard Bangladesh, told reporters that the agency immediately lodged a protest about Friday’s incident with the Border Guard Police of Myanmar.

This wasn’t the first time that the fighting between Arakan Army rebels and the Myanmar military in Myanmar had come close to the Bangladesh border.

On Aug. 28, during heavy fighting in Myanmar’s border state of Rakhine, two mortar shells landed in the same area but did not go off. A similar incident also occurred on Aug. 20 as well.

This month alone, Dhaka has protested and summoned Myanmar’s ambassador to Bangladesh three times to protest these incidents.

Earlier this week, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the country’s border police had reinforced security along the frontier with Myanmar.

Amid the tense situation inside Myanmar, a few new Rohingya families have arrived in Cox’s Bazar, where Bangladesh already hosts about one million refugees from Myanmar.

One of the new arrivals told BenarNews on Sept. 10 that he saw “several hundred” people clustered along the Naf River that separates Cox’s Bazar from Rakhine state, and who were trying to cross the border several days earlier.

It was not immediately clear what happened to those other people apparently displaced by intense clashes in recent weeks between junta forces and the Arakan Army.

BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated news service.