Eight killed in Bangladesh tribal insurgent shootout

The fight happened near Ronwagnchhari, a town shut to tourists since October when security forces acted against a new rebel group.

Bangladesh flag. Picture: YouTube.

DHAKA – At least eight people were killed during a gunfight between two tribal insurgent groups at a remote town in Bangladesh’s restive Chittagong hills, police said Friday.

The skirmish took place near Ronwagnchhari, a town shut to tourists since October when security forces launched a crackdown against the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), a newly emerged rebel group.

The operation has displaced hundreds of tribal people, with some walking for days to cross the border and take refuge in a remote corner of northeastern India.

Local police chief Tariqul Islam told AFP two rival armed groups clashed Thursday night and officers recovered the dead bodies of eight tribal people Friday morning.

“They were killed in a gun battle,” Islam told AFP, adding that around 60 people had fled their homes in Khamtangpara village where the attack took place.

Another district police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity told AFP that the victims were Bawm, a small Christian tribal community.

They were suspected members of the KNF that had been shot dead by a splinter faction of the United People’s Democratic Front, he added.

Last month, the Bangladesh Army accused the KNF of killing one of its troops and injuring another.

The elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) police unit also accuses the KNF of harbouring and training Islamist extremists.

Running through Bangladesh’s southeast, the Chittagong hills were the site of a two-decade-long insurgency that killed thousands of civilians.

The conflict officially came to an end with a 1997 peace deal, but at least six armed groups continue to operate in the area, according to police.

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