Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) fought a battle for five hours at Painchhari of Naikkhangchhari in Bandarban yesterday over the return of a Bangladeshi soldier missing since Wednesday.
The BGB suffered no casualties but the situation in the BGP camp could not be known.
The gunfight erupted when BGB personnel had gone near the border to see if a body which Myanmar troops claimed to have in their possession was actually of missing BGB Nayek Mizanur Rahman.
On Wednesday, the BGP shot at a BGB patrol team near the border and allegedly detained injured Mizanur intruding into Bangladesh territory.
BGB Director General Maj General Aziz Ahmed said, “Since morning, Myanmar troops had been giving us several locations [to go to] and our troops followed their suggestions. But suddenly they opened fire on our troops … We retailed,” the BGB chief told The Daily Star yesterday evening.
Sources in BGB and locals claimed that around 600 bullets were exchanged between 11:00am and 4:00pm.
“We're still waiting for a body,” the BGB chief said.
Locals claimed that a BGB man collapsed on the ground during the shooting of Wednesday. After the BGB patrol team had retreated, the Myanmar Border Guard Police came across the no man's land and took the man away.
A foreign ministry official quoting a top ranking BGB official said the situation on the ground was not suitable for holding a flag meeting and getting the nayek back.
“We are in contact with the Myanmar government and are closely monitoring the situation,” said a senior official of the foreign ministry.
The BGB had deployed additional forces and heavy weapons along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Naikkhangchhari of Bandarban since Wednesday while Myanmar deployed its army.
BGB chief Maj Gen Aziz said they are adequately prepared and were trying to resolve the situation on the ground and through diplomatic means.
Dhaka yesterday lodged fresh protests with Myanmar against the firing and demanded immediate release of the BGB member.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh embassy in Yangon handed over a note verbale to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar yesterday protesting the firing and demanding release of the BGB personnel and a thorough probe into the incident.
On Thursday, the ambassador of Myanmar in Dhaka was summoned to the foreign ministry and was handed a similar note verbale.
BGB sources said without any provocation, Myanmar border guards had also opened fire on a BGB patrol team at Baishpari in Ghundhoom of Naikkhangchhari on May 21.
The next day a flag meeting was held and the BGP apologised.
Bangladesh and Myanmar share 152kms of border.
Our correspondents in Bandarban, Cox's Bazar and our diplomatic correspondent contributed to this report.