by Our Correspondent in Dhaka;
In another skirmish between a tribal group and the patrolling Bangladesh Army in south-eastern Chittagong Hill Tracts has left two tribesmen dead and a trooper seriously wounded, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a release.
The release said the incident took place on Tuesday between the United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF-Prashit) who opened fire on the troops during an army raid against suspected extortionists at Raoutila of Naniarchar in Rangamati district in the afternoon.
The troops retaliated with bullets leaving two UPDF men killed. An army soldier sustained injuries during the gunfight and he was flown to Chittagong Combined Military Hospital for improved treatment.
The patrolling army troopers seized an AK-22 SMG from the spot.
The UPDF is a regional political party which is seeking autonomy of the hill region comprising of Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari, while its main rival is the Parbatya Chottogram Janasanghati Samity, which gave the armed fight under the banner of “Shanti Bahini” signed a landmark peace treaty with the Awami League government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 1997.
But turf war and extortion by the tribal groups has been responsible for unrest in the scenic Hills which is now dotted with holiday resorts and thronged by a large number of foreign as well as domestic tourists annually.
The unrest started after 1975 with the regime of General Ziaur Rahman, killed in a coup in 1981, which allowed Bengali-speaking from the plains to resettle in the hill region. The new settlers and tribesmen initially fought over land issues.
The Bangladesh Army has been tasked to ensure peace and security of the region since the outbreak of a secessionist movement in and have continued to do so with the number of troops curtailed after the 1997 peace treaty.
The unrest has cost the lives of many army men, but they have ensured maximum peace and security to allow tourists as well as others to visit the once strife-torn region, bordering Myanmar and India.