A silhouetted Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army fighter against the rebel group’s flag. Photo: Youtube
By Kamran Reza Chowdhury and Abdur Rahman on Dec 02, 2022
Rohingya rebel group ARSA on Friday denied Dhaka’s allegations that it killed a Bangladesh military intelligence officer last month, saying he died during an exchange of fire between Burmese and Bangladesh forces.
Officials in the South Asian country said that officer Rizwan Rushdie and a Rohingya woman were killed by suspected Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army members on Nov. 14 during a counter-drugs operation in no-man’s land near the border with Myanmar.
This was “not [an] accurate account of the incident,” ARSA said in a statement.
“We have later acquired audio visual evidences of the incident. We would like to clarify that gunshots were exchanged between Bangladesh and Burmese forces, in which a life of an innocent young mother, just after 11 days of childbirth, was lost and many others were injured,” ARSA added.
On Friday, ARSA said, “our activities are limited within the political borders of Burma.”
BenarNews contacted Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal for comments about ARSA’s statement on Friday, but he declined, referring to the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) or the police for their remarks.
The BGB did not take calls, while the communications wing of the military did not immediately comment.
BenarNews also contacted officials at the police station in Naikhangchhari sub-district where the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) officer and woman were killed.
Inspector Shohag Rana from the police station told BenarNews that he would not comment on a case under investigation.
“A statement from any organization will not influence the investigation,” he said.
“We have been continuing our efforts to arrest the accused persons.”
ARSA, formerly known as Al-Yaaqin, is the Rohingya insurgent group that launched coordinated deadly attacks on Burmese government military and police outposts Myanmar’s border state Rakhine in August 2017.
These attacks provoked a crackdown that forced close to three-quarters of a million people to seek shelter in Bangladesh, where they now live in sprawling camps in Cox’s Bazar.
ARSA said Bangladesh authorities were tagging blameless refugees as the group’s members and punishing them.
“[A]ny crimes and incidents happening in the camps such as the latest mentioned incident at zero point, in all such happenings most of the time innocent Rohingya refugees from the camps are labelled as ARSA members and extrajudicially arrested by the authorities.”
Zero point is another name for no-man’s land.
Bangladesh police have blamed ARSA for the September 2021 killing of Cox’s Bazar Rohingya leader Muhib Ullah, who had drawn international attention to the refugees’ plight and visited the White House in Washington.
In a report issued in June, Bangladesh police alleged that ARSA leader Ataullah Abu Ahmmar Jununi had ordered Muhib Ullah assassinated because he was popular.
Some refugees also blame ARSA for killing Rohingya leaders who call for refugees to repatriate to Rakhine, their home state in nearby Myanmar.
Meanwhile, police told the Agence France-Presse news agency that ARSA leader Ataullah was present during the counter-drugs operation in which the intelligence officer and the woman was killed.
DGFI has charged Ataullah and 60 others for the Nov. 14 killings, AFP had said.