Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Burma opens fire on Bangladeshi fishermen

(DVB)–Bangladesh’s border security force has sent an angry letter of protest to the Burmese government after Burmese border patrol troops last week opened fire on Bangladeshi fishermen, injuring six, one critically.

A Burmese national living in Bangladesh, Khaing Pray Thein, told DVB that government border troops in a patrol boat opened fire on three Bangladeshi boats off the coast near the Naff River opening on 4 June.

Eleven fishermen were on the boats; six of them were injured while one was left in a serious condition. Burmese troops confiscated two of their boats and released the fishermen on the third.

He said Bangladesh’s border security paramilitary group, the Bangladeshi Rifles, have sent a letter to the Burmese authorities protesting the attack.

“So far we haven’t heard of any response made from the Burmese government,” said Khaing Pray Thein.

“[The Burmese] are not returning the boats either. Apparently the Bangladeshi were fishing in Burmese territory.”

A similar incident occurred in mid-April this year which left one Bangladeshi fisherman dead.

And last November a maritime dispute erupted between the two countries over a disputed stretch of the Bay of Bengal, with both countries gathering within striking distance of one another in a face-off that was eventually settled.

Meanwhile, the tension is being compounded with both sides increasing troop numbers on the border.

In April the Burmese government suspended construction of a controversial border fence, with Bangladesh claiming it would run too close to the border.

Locals living on the Burmese side of the border have said the fence will impact on those reliant on Bangladeshi services, such as medicine and food.

Reporting by DVB

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