Burmese troops kill one, abduct 13, says Dhaka

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By Muzaffar Hussain Manik, Special to Arab News

Published — Saturday 27 October 2001

Last Update 27 October 2001 3:00 am

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh, 27 October — Burma border troops shot dead one Bangladeshi man, wounded two and abducted 13 yesterday while they were fishing in the Naf River which divides the two countries, Bangladesh security officials said.

An officer in the Bangladesh Rifles border force told reporters the people were attacked by Burmese troops while fishing in the Bangladesh part of the river.

The Bangladesh Rifles had lodged a protest with the Burma military and asked for a meeting on the incident.

“We have not received a response from them yet,” Bangladesh Rifles Maj. Ashraful Hussain said.

He said Burmese troops had seized at least 150 Bangladeshis including fishermen and loggers on what he described as false charges of trespassing over the last two years.

Some of them have been freed following talks between the two sides but others are languishing in Burmese jails, he said.

The Naf River forms part of the 320 km-long Bangladesh-Burma border.

In the past Bangladesh had complained that Burma forces planted land mines along the border, apparently trying to block the movement of rebels seeking a separate homeland in Burma’s western Arakan state, bordering Bangladesh’s southeastern Cox’s Bazar.

Mines have killed about 30 Bangladeshis, mostly people collecting timber in forests along the frontier, as well as nearly 20 elephants since 1997, local officials say.

Nearly 21,000 Burmese Muslims, known as Rohingyas, have been living in two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar since 1992 after they fled from their country alleging persecution by the ruling military.

meanwhile, a five-day Hindu festival ended yesterday in Bangladesh amid tight security following a spate of attacks on minorities.

Police and paramilitary troops were deployed at most of capital's 100 festival venues and along the crowded procession routes, but no violence was reported, witnesses and security officials said.

There had been fears that the festival, one of the most important in the Hindu calendar, could be disrupted.

Hindus in Bangladesh say they have faced violence and harassment since the country's Oct. 1 general election which gave the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) a landslide victory.

They said they were being targeted because they were judged to be supporters of the defeated Awami League.

Earlier in the week, A.C. Nath, president of the National Puja Festival Committee, had called for "subdued celebrations" as a mark of protest "due to continued communal attack, torture and repression." Dozens of government ministers, including Home Minister Altaf Hussain Chowdhury, and several Dhaka-based foreign diplomats toured the festival venues Thursday and yesterday to make sure security measures were in place, local media reported.

Bangladesh's population is 88 percent Muslim, with the rest being Hindu, Buddhist and Christian.

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