Rumors of Burmese Troop Buildup After Maritime Verdict

Dhaka: There are rumors spreading along the border that Burma has built up its troops along the border, particularly in northern Maungdaw and Buthidaung Townships after the maritime verdict announced by the ITLOS, says a border reporter of Narinjara.

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) on regular patrol on the Naff River

He said that the downtown area of Maungdaw is normal, but most of the border areas close to Bangladesh are experiencing tension because authorities have reportedly beefed up security with more troops along the border.

“As far as I know some additional troops on the Burmese side have been deployed at some border areas, including Taungbro, and Kyin Chaung in Maungdaw Township, and some villages in northern Buthidaung Township after the maritime dispute verdict announced by ITLOS, but I do no know the number of troops in the area,” he said.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) delivered its judgment on Wednesday in favor of Bangladesh in the maritime dispute between Burma and Bangladesh. Afterwards, troops were reportedly deployed along the border.

An official from Buthidaung said that he heard the Burmese army has commandeered five ferry ships in Buthidaung to bring troops from Sittwe to the border area, and the ships are now in standby position. However, he could not confirm when the troops would be brought to the border.

A local resident in Maungdaw, the border town of Burma close to Bangladesh said, “There are many rumors in Maungdaw that Burmese troops are being deployed along the border but no one has seen the troops. I do not know exactly what happens on the border.”

Some Bangladesh newspapers and television channels also reported in the last few days that Burma has mobilized a huge number of troops along the border with Bangladesh, but Bangladesh authorities have denied such reports, calling them propaganda.

A high-level team of Border Guard Bangladesh visited the Burmese border on Thursday after the reports came out.

“We could not find any evidence of military build-up along the borders during our visit,” said Lt. Colonel Khalequzzaman, Commander of 17-BGB Battalion in Cox’s Bazar, after concluding their visit around 5:00 pm.

Burmese authorities on Thursday reported on the verdict of the ITLOS in the maritime dispute on its state-run MRTV channel, calling it a fair and just verdict and stating their acceptance of the verdict.