Myanmar builds troops on border, says Bangladesh

Myanmar builds troops on border, says Bangladesh

Bangladesh said on Sunday it had sent army reinforcements to the border with Myanmar as Yangon was undertaking a military build-up along the 320-km (200-mile) frontier, partly overlooking the Naf river, Reuters reported.

But talking to reporters in the afternoon, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni called the military movements on the Myanmar side a "routine practice, not a build up."

The minister said she would meet her Myanmar counterpart in Colombo on October 15 on the sidelines of Asian Cooperation Dialogue and discuss bilateral issues. She did not elaborate.

Senior military officials had earlier said Bangladesh sent three army brigades to its southeastern hilly border after Myanmar deployed fresh regular army contingents along with Nasaka border troops, dug bunkers and added artillery.

"They look like going for a massive build-up," said Lieutenant-Colonel Azam of the Bangladesh Rifles (border guards) at Naikhyangchhari, a paramilitary frontier camp. The colonel gave only one name.

"But we hope the build up will not escalate into a shootout," he told a Reuters reporter at Cox's Bazar border district.

Border rumblings happen sporadically between the two countries and there are sometimes minor clashes, but they usually do not escalate beyond that.

Intelligence officials said Myanmar had already reopened a long-disused military airport at Sittowe (Akyab) near the border, and was renovating another.

A leading Bangladesh daily, Jugantar, printed photographs on Sunday showing aircraft at the Sittowe base and troops in armored vehicles moving on the border.

Officials said on Sunday they were "closely monitoring" the situation on the Myanmar side of the border.

"We (are) seeing some abnormal movement of troops and amour on their side but are not sure what that is for," said Colonel Didarul Alam of the Bangladesh Army, in Chittagong port city.

Security sources say Myanmar is erecting barbed-wire fences along its border with Bangladesh, ostensibly to hold off an influx of Muslim refugees into Bangladesh.

But military and civil officials said that did not warrant rebuilding air bases or deploying thousands of regular troops.

Dipu Moni said the fence was being erected "in conformance with international laws."

There are more than 21,000 Muslim "Rohingya" refugees from western Myanmar in two Bangladeshi camps but many more have mingled with local residents since a major influx in 1992, local and U.N. officials say.

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