Bangladesh repatriates Myanmar troops after fighting on border

Bangladesh repatriates Myanmar troops after fighting on border

DHAKA (AFP): Bangladesh sent home nearly 300 Myanmar troops and civil servants on Thursday who fled across the border to escape attacks on their outposts near the frontier between the two countries.

Myanmar has been roiled in conflict since the military seized power from a democratically elected government in a 2021 coup.

Violent clashes between soldiers of the Arakan Army, an armed group belonging to an ethnic minority, and junta forces since late last year saw hundreds of fleeing troops cross into Bangladesh.

Government officials told AFP that a Myanmar-flagged ship carrying soldiers, police and civil servants departed from the river port of Naniarchar on Thursday.

“All 288 troops, which mostly include Myanmar’s Border Guard Police and some army soldiers and immigration officials, left Naniarchar at around 6 am,” a senior government official told AFP.

Two other government officials confirmed the departures to AFP. All three spoke on condition of anonymity, citing security reasons.

Bangladesh has stepped up security along its border with Myanmar, fearing that the conflict there could trigger another major influx of Rohingya Muslim refugees caught in the fighting.

The country is already home to an estimated one million stateless Rohingya refugees, most of whom fled a brutal 2017 crackdown that is now subject to a genocide investigation at the International Court of Justice.

Neighbouring India deported last month dozens of Myanmar nationals who fled a recent surge of fighting between the junta and fighters from an alliance of ethnic minority groups near its shared border.

Thousands of civilians have fled the fighting in Myanmar by crossing into neighbouring India, Bangladesh and Thailand.