Myanmar conflict escalates as warplanes circle near Bangladesh border

NAIKHONGCHARI CORRESPONDENT

For over two years, violent clashes have continued across Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where the national military junta has been locked in a fierce battle with the insurgent Arakan Army. The conflict has escalated near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

On Saturday, April 13, as part of the ongoing conflict, Myanmar’s military aircraft were observed conducting maneuvers near pillar 45 close to Naikhongchari. Sources at the Jamchhari village border, who spoke under the pseudonyms Mohammad Jafar and Mohammad Rashid, told Parbatta News that a Myanmar Air Force fighter jet repeatedly flew over the village in Rakhine– three times after 8am and four times after 4:30pm – heading towards Fakira Bazaar.

Residents along the Bangladesh side of the border witnessed these operations, which are believed to be a response to an assault by the Arakan Army. The rebel group has been trying to capture a significant military base in Fakira Bazaar, prompting aerial strikes by the junta forces.

This confrontation has led to continuous fierce fighting in Fakira Bazaar over the past two days. Observers suggest that the junta forces, facing potential defeat, could retreat towards Bangladesh to save themselves.

In light of these developments, the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) have been put on high alert, a BGB source said.

Mohammad Zakaria, upazila nirbahi officer of Naikhongchari, stated that upon learning of the aerial maneuvers, he informed the Bandarban deputy commissioner. He confirmed that the warplane activities and associated sounds of gunfire had not affected the Bangladesh side of the border.

Additional sources noted that the Myanmar military is struggling to withstand a prolonged two-month battle with the Arakan Army. The ongoing conflict has severely impacted infrastructure in the region, particularly in the Rakhine townships such as Mongdaw. Intense mortar shelling and heavy weaponry have devastated road networks and created critical shortages of water, fuel, and food.

Furthermore, government forces are reportedly retreating to the Kaladan hills behind Mongdaw township, while the Arakan Army continues its aggressive expansion, seizing new military camps and battalions.

Previously, on March 30, three members of Myanmar’s military sought refuge in Bangladesh through the Naikhongchari border. On March 11, another 177 personnel, including BGB and military members, also sought asylum and are currently under the protection of the 11th BGB in Naikhongchari town. Earlier instances saw an additional 330 junta members taking refuge in Bangladesh, who were later repatriated to Myanmar on February 15 via the Inani Navy jetty in Cox’s Bazar.

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