DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Several underground tunnels have been reportedly found at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border allegedly used by a separatist group of Myanmar, according to local Rohingya sources.
“ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) used those tunnels and even detained people after kidnapping them,” a Rohingya in the no man’s land at Tambru border in Bangladesh’s southeastern sub-district of Naikhongchari, Bandarban, shared on the condition of anonymity.
He added that these tunnels have access to Myanmar’s territory and were used by the ARSA members.
The head of Naikhongchhari sub-district administration, Romen Sharma, said that according to border law, they have no scope to send the border forces to check the no-man’s land between the two countries.
“We have also come to know from the media reports that there are some underground tunnels in the no-man’s land where the Rohingya makeshift tents were located earlier,” Sharma said, neither denying nor confirming the existence of these tunnels.
A local private television channel in Bangladesh, Channel 24, interviewed two ARSA members, without mentioning their names, about these tunnels.
“There were a total of seven such underground tunnels. Of which, one was used by ARSA chief Ataullah and another one was used by second-in-command Ustad Khaled. The other tunnels were used for making weapons and other purposes. Those tunnels were made in such a way that they can easily go into Myanmar through it,” the report quoted the ARSA members as claiming.
The tunnels came to light on January 18 after a fire broke out in a Rohingya settlement and burned down all makeshift tents.
Nearly 5,000 persecuted Rohingya refugees have been living in makeshift tents in this no-man’s land for nearly six years after fleeing a brutal military crackdown in the Rakhine state of Myanmar in August 2017.
Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.2 million Rohingya, who have been described by the UN as “the most persecuted community in the world.”
Several attempts by Bangladesh and international communities for peaceful repatriation of Rohingya to their motherland of Myanmar have failed due to concerns over safety, dignity, and rights under Myanmar’s military junta.