Border fencing by Myanmar upsets Bangladesh

March 17th, 2009 - 11:30 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, March 17 (IANS) Bangladesh says its eastern neighbour Myanmar is “unilaterally” erecting a barbed wire fencing along its border and has mobilised troops and naval force.
Tension runs high along the Bangladesh-Myanmar 200 km long border, The Daily Star said Tuesday quoting unnamed defence sources.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mohammad Towhid Hossain confirmed that Myanmar started mobilising its forces in the bordering areas since an incident in the Bay of Bengal in November.

“The reinforcements are still there but we do not have any information about the construction of fences,” Hossain said.

“Bangladesh has no problem if Myanmar erects fences on their territory, he said adding, “It will curb smuggling and illegal trespassing”.

Myanmar started putting up barbed-wire fences along its borders with Bangladesh last November when its naval ships intruded into Bangladesh’s maritime boundary. But the construction of the fences became visible recently, Bangladeshi officials claimed.

Sources said an airport in Myanmar’s Sitwe town, close to Bangladesh border, is being revamped through construction of long runways.

Myanmar has also mobilised a number of China-made naval ships close to its maritime boundary with Bangladesh.

Defence sources said they have information that the Myanmarese military rulers were unhappy that the country in early November had to withdraw an oil and gas-drilling rig from Bangladesh’s maritime boundary which they claimed as theirs.

Since then Myanmar has kept its soldiers on high alert alongside Bangladesh border while Bangladesh also put its troops on alert for some time.

“As tension mounts, smuggling in the bordering areas stopped totally.

“A Myanmarese drilling rig was positioned close to Bangladesh maritime boundary the day before yesterday. But it did not enter our waters,” said a source.

The government has already been informed about the prevailing situation but no specific instructions were given to the army, navy or air force.

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