Eight Dead in Gunfight Between Tribal Insurgent Groups in Bangladesh

Fri Apr 07 2023
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DHAKA: At least eight people were killed in a gunfight between two tribal insurgent groups in a remote town near Ronwagnchhari, in Bangladesh’s Chittagong hills, on Thursday night.

The area has been shut to tourists since October following a crackdown by security forces against the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), a newly emerged insurgent group.

The operation has displaced hundreds of thousands of tribal people, with some walking for days to cross the border and take refuge in a remote corner of northeastern India.

According to local police chief Tariqul Islam, two rival armed groups clashed, and officers recovered the dead bodies of eight tribal people on Friday morning.

“They were killed in a gunfight,” Islam told AFP news agency, adding that about 60 people had fled their homes in the village of Khamtangpara, where the attack took place. Another police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the news agency that the victims were Bawm, a small Christian tribal community, and were suspected members of the KNF group that had been shot dead by a splinter group of the United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF).

Insurgent groups in Bangladesh

Last month, the Bangladesh military accused the KNF of killing one of its soldiers and injuring another.

The elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) police unit also alleged that the KNF of harbouring and training Islamist extremists.

Running through southeast of Bangladesh, the Chittagong hills were the site of a two-decade-long insurgency that killed thousands of civilians.

The conflict officially came to an end with a 1997 peace deal, but at least six armed groups continue to operate in the area, according to police.

The latest incident highlights the ongoing instability in the region and the challenges faced by the government in maintaining law and order in the Chittagong hills.

The displacement of tribal people, combined with the emergence of new rebel groups and allegations of links with Islamist extremists, is a growing concern for authorities.

The government must urgently address these issues to prevent further violence and displacement in the region.

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