New Delhi (Mizzima) - The Burmese military junta is constructing a military airbase for jet fighters near Buthidaung town, in Burma's western Arakan, state sources said.
Khaing Mrat Kyaw, editor of Arakan news agency 'Narinjara' in exile told Mizzima on Wednesday that the Burmese military regime is constructing a new airbase for the army in northern Arakan State in western Burma and is beefing up the artillery battalions near Buthidaung town.
"Burma is reinforcing its military forces near Buthidaung town," said Khaing Mrat Kyaw. According to his website Narinjara, Burma's military junta is deploying at least 13 more army battalions in and around Buthidaung Town, a Bangladesh-Burma border town.
While the information cannot be independently verified due to communication difficulties, a source on the Bangladesh-Burma border said the increased military deployment near the border came within months of Bangladesh and Burma being locked in a face off over territorial waters.
Tin Soe, an editor of Bangladesh based 'Kaladan Press News', also said he has observed a significant increase in military deployment along the border following the maritime boundary dispute between the two countries in the Bay of Bengal.
"After the two countries had a problem over the water boundary, there has been an increase in the number of army battalions in the northwestern part of Arakan state," Tin Soe said.
But, Aye Thar Aung, a veteran Arakan politician in Rangoon said that Prime Minister Thein Sein's visit to Arakan state on Wednesday and the increase in the number of army battalions in the state are likely to have a connection with the junta's construction of a seaport and their interest in the vast natural gas reserves present in the state.
Burma's state-run newspaper the 'New Light of Myanmar' on Wednesday said Prime Minister General Thein Sein on Tuesday flew to Sittwe, capital of Arakan state, and had meetings with local authorities and discussed regional developments and natural disaster preparedness.
But, Aye Thar Aung said, "The increased army presence in Arakan state is because the junta has to supply the natural gas to China and to develop the seaport in the state."
Gas reserves in Burma's offshore Arakan oilfields are estimated to be up to 4.53 tcf (trillion cubic feet) of gas.