Myanmar government forces flee into Bangladesh during fighting with an ethnic armed group

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Nearly a hundred members of Myanmar’s Border Guard Police have fled their posts and taken shelter in Bangladesh during fighting between Myanmar security forces and an ethnic minority army, an official of Bangladesh’s border agency said Monday.

Shariful Islam, spokesperson for Border Guard Bangladesh, said by phone that the Myanmar forces entered Bangladesh over last two days to escape fighting with the Arakan Army in Myanmar’s Rakhine state bordering Bangladesh.

They entered Bangladesh through the Tombru border in Bandarban district, he said.

“In total 95, Myanmar troops are there now,” he said. “They have been disarmed and taken to safe places.”

Since Saturday, gunshots could be heard coming from the Myanmar side of the border, local media reported.

The Arakan Army is the well-trained military wing of the Rakhine ethnic minority seeking autonomy from the central government and has been attacking army outposts in the western state since mid-November.

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It is part of an alliance of ethnic minority armies that launched an offensive in late October, gaining strategic territory in the country’s northeast bordering China. Its success was widely seen as a major defeat for the military government, which seized power in February 2021 from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and is now embroiled in a wide-ranging civil war.

The alliance, called the Three Brotherhood Alliance, said in a statement Monday that the Arakan Army had attacked two border outposts in Maungdaw township in Rakhine state and captured one of them on Sunday.

Khaing Thukha, an Arakan Army spokesperson, said later Monday that fighting was still continuing at the second outpost.

Myanmar’s military government made no immediate comment.

The alliance includes the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.

Bangladesh shares a 271-kilometer (168-mile) border with Myanmar and hosts more than 1 million Muslim Rohingya refugees, many of whom fled from Buddhist-dominated Myanmar starting in late August 2017 when its military launched a brutal “clearance operation” against them following attacks by an insurgent group.

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