Bangladesh asks Myanmar to pull back troops from border

Newly arrived Rohingya refugees walk inside the UNHCR trasit point at Ghumdum in UKhiya, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, 12 February 2018. Photo: Abir Abdullah/EPA-EFE

Bangladesh Thursday asked Myanmar to immediately "pull back" security forces and heavy weapons from the border after the troop build-up near a camp housing thousands of stranded Rohingya stirred tension on the troubled frontier.

The foreign ministry "summoned" Myanmar's envoy and conveyed the country's "concerns" over the "military build-up" amid rising tensions following the influx of nearly 700,000 refugees from Myanmar.

Bangladesh's acting foreign secretary "conveyed to the Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka that such military build-up will create confusion within Bangladesh and escalate tensions on the border," the ministry said.

"He told the ambassador to convey to the Myanmar authorities for the immediate pullback of Myanmar security forces along with military assets from the area," it said.

Dhaka said the troops were mobilised near a thin strip of land between the two countries where around 6,000 Rohingya have been living since fleeing Myanmar following a military crackdown in late August.

They were among the first to flee Myanmar and set up shelters in no man's land in the weeks before Bangladesh agreed to let the Rohingya into the country.

In recent weeks they have come under pressure from Myanmar soldiers, who have stepped up patrols along the barbed-wire border fence just metres (yards) from the camp and broadcast messages using loudhailers ordering the Rohingya to leave.

Hundreds of Rohingya have since fled the camp and taken shelter in refugee settlements in Bangladesh's southeastern border district of Cox's Bazar.


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