Thursday, March 19, 2009

Burma: Tension rises on Burma-Bangladesh border as Burma erects barbed wire fences

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Tension are running high along the Bangladesh-Burma borders as Burma started erecting barbed wire fences unilaterally on its side of 200 km land borders with Bangladesh, said a BDR (Bangladesh Rifles) official from border area.

At around 60 armies with plain clothes have been deploying to each Naska area of Maungdaw Township recently. They are the Engineering Corps of Military Operation Commands (MOC)-15 of Buthidaung Township. There are eight Nasaka areas in Maungdaw Township and the deployed 60 armies in every Naska area have the duty to supervise for erecting barbed wire fencing, said a close aide of Nasaka (Burma’s border security force).

Burma is also deploying its troops and naval force. Burma has also mobilized a number of China-made naval ships close to the maritime boundary with Bangladesh. Burma started mobilizing it forces in the bordering areas since the November incident in the Bay of Bengal. The reinforcements are still there. But the construction of the fences became visible recently, according to Bangladesh official

Burma’s military rulers were unhappy that the country in early November 2008, had to withdraw and oil and gas drilling rig from Bangladesh’s maritime boundary which they clamed as theirs.

A Burma’s draggling rig was positioned close to Bangladesh maritime boundary on March 15. But it did not enter Bangladesh water, said official.

Since then Burma has kept its soldiers on high alert alongside Bangladesh border while Bangladesh also put its troops on alert for some time. An airport in Sittwe, close to Bangladesh border, is being revamped through construction of long runways.

Recently, Burma’s soldiers erected barbed wire fences in Maungdaw south of Arakan State. Four cargo ships carrying barbed wires to Maungdaw town from Sittwe (Akyab), the capital of Arakan State. They are being taking from Maungdaw jetty to all Naska areas of Maungdaw Township with a plan to fence the areas from Maungdaw, Rathedaung (from Angumaw) to Paletwa town, a triangle point on Bangladesh-Burma-India border, sources said.

As tension mounts, smuggling in the bordering areas stopped. Bangladesh has no problem if Burma erects fences on their territory. It will curb smuggling and illegal trespassing, Foreign Secretary Mohammed Towhid said.

Regarding the prevailing situation, Bangladesh government has already been informed, but no specific instructions were given to the army, navy or air force, according to an army source on condition of anonymity.

Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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