1 Bangladeshi soldier killed, 2 injured in rare rebel attack
Dhaka, Mar 13 (EFE).- One soldier died and two others were injured in a militant attack in western Bangladesh, the military said on Monday, following a series of military operations in the region against separatist and Islamist groups that have triggered an exodus of people towards India.
In a statement, the Inter-Services Public Relations blamed the Kuki Chin National Army – a separatist formed by members of the Kuki Chin community – of attacking security forces in a hilly area of the Bandarban district on Sunday.
The insurgents opened fire against the soldiers when they were escorting a group of officials, killing one and wounding two, a day after having kidnapped 12 contractual employees of the military who were involved in road construction, ISPR added.
Some of the kidnapped workers were released by the militants after a ransom was paid, according to the Bangladeshi armed forces, who have accused KCNA of being linked to an Islamist insurgent group.
“Believer in separatist ideology, this terrorist group Kuki-Chin National Army has earlier provided arms training to militant groups like ‘Jamatul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya’ in exchange for money in the hilly areas of Bandarban,” said the statement.
Unknown until recently, the Jamatul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya grabbed limelight when security forces launched an operation to arrest its members in this area, which borders both India and Myanmar.
The Rapid Action Batallion – an elite unit of the Bangladeshi police – said in a statement Monday that since October it had arrested 59 alleged members of the Islamist group, which has links with Ansar al Islam, another extremist organization banned in 2017.
Moreover, the RAB has arrested 17 members of another Kuki Chin group operating in the region, although its relation with the KCNA has not been clarified by the authorities.
Police operations against insurgent and Islamist groups triggered the exodus of nearly 300 members of the Kucki Chin community to the Indian state of Mizoram, which borders Bandarban, Indian media outlets reported in November.
The Bandarban district is part of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, which saw an armed insurgency in the 1980s and 1990s by a tribal group seeking greater autonomy, until a peace deal was brokered between the Bangladesh government and the rebels in 1997. EFE