Teenage Rohingya refugee killed in Bangladesh by shell fired from Myanmar

A Rohingya teenager in Bangladesh has been killed and two others were hospitalised with injuries after being hit by a mortar shell fired from Myanmar.

Mohammad Zubair, 18, and others were crab fishing in the Naf River near the Myanmar border when they were hit by a shell fired from the other side, Mohammad Osman Gani, officer-in-charge of Teknaf police station, told the Dhaka Tribune.

Zubair succumbed to his injuries on the way to the hospital, while the other two were transferred to Chittagong Medical College Hospital for treatment.

Mr Gani said authorities were investigating whether the incident took place during their attempt to cross the border and that it was not known who carried out the attack.

This is the second such incident of cross-border shelling in two years since another teenager died in 2022 after a shell fired from Myanmar exploded in Bangladesh.

At the time Bangladesh said it would lodge a strong protest with Myanmar over the incident.

People of Maungdaw township of Myanmar are seen from the Teknaf area of Bangladesh, at the Myanmar-Bangladesh border (REUTERS)People of Maungdaw township of Myanmar are seen from the Teknaf area of Bangladesh, at the Myanmar-Bangladesh border (REUTERS)

People of Maungdaw township of Myanmar are seen from the Teknaf area of Bangladesh, at the Myanmar-Bangladesh border (REUTERS)

More than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine state during a military crackdown in 2017 live in overcrowded camps in southern Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar.

The latest bout of aggravated fighting between the Arakan Army (AA), an armed group of the Rakhine ethnic minority seeking autonomy from the central government, and the Myanmar junta has once again displaced tens of thousands in Rakhine state, which borders Bangladesh.

Thomas Andrews, a UN special rapporteur, last week said the crisis in Rakhine was “terrifying” and people were at risk of facing “genocidal violence” similar to what the community suffered eight years ago.

The violence in Rakhine escalated in November last year when the AA ended a ceasefire which had largely held since a military coup wrested power from the government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.

As fighting rages in western Myanmar near the Maungdaw border of Myanmar, the sounds of explosions and airstrikes have created panic among local residents.

”The war in Myanmar across the river has been going on for the past six to seven months, bringing fear into our lives,” said Nur Hossain, a 55-year-old fisherman.

“The deafening sounds of shells have become a regular occurrence, and sometimes we even see warplanes. Today, we saw airstrikes again.”

The escalating violence has spurred some Rohingya Muslims to flee into Bangladesh, even as Dhaka insists it cannot accept more refugees from the neighbour.

“Some people have managed to enter Bangladesh in various ways and have taken refuge in different places,” said Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, the Bangladesh official tasked with refugee relief and repatriation.

He added: “I believe some people are being allowed to enter unofficially.”

The AA has captured nine key towns in the coastal province and pursued its offensive to take more territory in a nationwide struggle that has left the junta at its weakest since the coup.

In May, the UN human rights office warned of “frightening and disturbing reports” about fresh violence in Rakhine, pointing to attacks on Rohingya civilians by both the military and the AA.

Liz Throssell, a spokesperson for the UN agency, highlighted the burning of the town of Buthidaung, air strikes, shootings at unarmed fleeing villagers, beheadings and disappearances in the northern part of Rakhine in recent weeks.

“Some of the most serious allegations concern incidents of killing of Rohingya civilians and the burning of their property,” she said.

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