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Bangladesh alerts troops along Myanmar frontier

Last Updated: Friday, October 9, 2009 - 15:26

Dhaka: The tussle between Bangladesh and Myanmar over prospecting in the gas rich Bay of Bengal has spilled over to the land boundary with both the countries massing troops on the frontline.
Bangladesh officials claimed they were forced to order an alert and send reinforcements to the border as Myanmar`s military junta deployed huge troops with heavy weapons within five kilometres of the border.

Army headquarters did not issue any statement on the border build up, but a senior Army officer said they had moved to keep a sharp vigil on the frontier.

The tension erupted coinciding with an intensified dispute over maritime boundary in Bay of Bengal which has now prompted Dhaka to seek UN arbitration under UNCLOS Convention.

"The villagers on the frontier villages were frightened as we received reports that Yangon engaged 10 warships in rivers on the other side of hills, which cannot be seen from Bangladesh frontiers," local union council chief of Ghungdhum border area Dilip Barua told reporters.

Officials at the frontiers, however, said the ships were perhaps mobilised to keep a watch on the disputed territory in the Bay of Bengal and not for any action in the borders.

The Daily Star, quoting witnesses, reported that tension ran high as Myanmar troops fired several shots towards Bangladesh territory while it already constructed 42-kilometre long road and 9-kilometre war obstacles for its troops and set up concrete pillars on a 10-kilometre area along the border.

Bangladesh has protested Myanmar`s provocative acts time and again but the military junta did not pay any heed, the sources in the foreign ministry said, adding Dhaka repeatedly requested Yangon to stop such provocations.

The report also said quoting unidentified sources that Yangon had renovated and expanded the earlier abandoned Sittwe Airport known as Arakan Airport and started flying aircraft for military exercise from there two to three days back which also increased tension on the Bangladesh side.

Dhaka-Yangon relations witnessed a military standoff last year over the maritime dispute with mobilisation of warships in the bay and troops in their borders.

The "crisis in the Bay of Bengal" ended with the withdrawal of a Yangon-engaged South Korean exploration rig and Myanmar`s warships from areas of overlapping claims while the Beijing’s intervention was believed to have eased the situation at that time.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, October 9, 2009 - 15:26

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