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Tension : Myanmar shuts Bangladesh border after deadly attacks

By Tajuddin
In DIPLOMAT MEMO
Oct 10th, 2016
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Tension mounts on Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

Tension mounts on Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

Naypyidaw, Myanmar (Anadolu Agency + DIPLOMAT.SO) – Myanmar has shuttered crossings on its border with Bangladesh and local schools following weekend attacks on police station outposts that left at least 17 people dead, including nine police officers.

Early Sunday morning, attackers armed with rifles, knives and explosives stormed three Border Guard Police Force stations in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw and Yathay Taung townships — areas predominantly occupied by the country’s stateless Rohingya Muslim population.

The government has said that at least nine policemen and eight militants were killed during the attacks, and a police officer remains missing.

An overnight curfew (7 p.m. – 6 a.m.) was announced Sunday evening while authorities brought the situation under control.

The areas are still governed by a partial curfew (11 p.m. – 4 a.m.) placed since communal violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims broke out in mid-2012.

On Monday, Maungtaw District General Administrator Ye Naing told Anadolu Agency that all border trade gates and all crossings have been closed since Sunday.

“No one is allowed to cross the border as government troops are clearing the areas,” he said by phone.

“Trade could not be restarted this week,” he said, adding that the re-opening of the border gates depends on the situation.

Ye Naung said that some 400 government schools have also been temporarily closed.

On Monday, state-run media reported the foreign minister for Rakhine State’s regional government as saying that police have launched an investigation into the attacks and are tracking those responsible in cooperation with the military.

“If there is firm evidence of the involvement of another country, the government will discuss the issue with the Bangladesh ambassador,” Kyaw Tint was quoted as saying.

Despite police arresting two militants during the attacks, authorities are yet to confirm which group is responsible.

“We are not sure if the attackers are from the RSO, but they shouted the word ‘Rohingya’ during the raids,” Police Chief Zaw Win told a press conference Sunday, referring to the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO).

The RSO is a shadowy outfit that takes its name from the Muslim minority group, which has been described by the United Nations as one of the world’s most persecuted.

“We are still questioning the two armed men,” Zaw Win added.

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