YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A Myanmar government spokesman on Friday defended the deployment of more security forces to the border with Bangladesh, rejecting suspicions their aim is to drive 6,000 Rohingya refugees staying in a no man’s land into Bangladeshi territory.
Spokesman Zaw Htay said the deployment was triggered by reports that Rohingya insurgents intended to launch an attack from the border region.
Some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Buddhist-dominated Myanmar to Bangladesh since late August, when Myanmar security forces began massive “clearance operations” after the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army insurgent group —ARSA — attacked security posts. The Myanmar government forces have been accused of carrying out massive human rights violations against the Rohingya.
“First, we are not trying to provoke Bangladesh and second, we are just trying to prepare for the prevention of possible attacks planned by the ARSA terrorist group who are based in the villages at the border on the Bangladesh side,” Zaw Htay said. “This is not like we are trying to invade Bangladesh and fight against them. These are only actions taken against the terrorist groups based on information we received.”
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Gen. Mojibur Rahman of the Border Guard Bangladesh said Thursday his agency had protested to Myanmar about the deployment. He complained that Myanmar officials have been using loudspeakers to urge the Rohingya in the no man’s land to enter Bangladesh. Bangladesh wants them to return to Myanmar.
The news agency United News of Bangladesh reported Thursday that Bangladesh’s acting foreign secretary, Mohammed Khurshed Alam, summoned Myanmar’s envoy in Dhaka and handed over a protest note.
It said the ministry conveyed Bangladesh’s concerns about Myanmar’s military buildup and said it would create confusion and escalate tensions along the border. The ministry asked for an immediate pullback of the security forces from the area, the agency reported.