Gunfight between KNF and army in Ruma, 2 soldiers killed, 3 injured

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Hill Voice, 17 May 2023, Bandarban: A gunfight has reportedly taken place between the army and the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) in Remakri Prangsa Union of Ruma in Bandarban and Bortholi Union of Bilaichhari in Rangamati. It is reported that 2 army personnel were killed and 3 other personnel were seriously injured in the incident. On the other hand, casualty of some KNF members was also reported. The incident took place on Tuesday (May 16) at 1:45 pm.

According to local sources, on May 16, 2023, army of Ruma Zone, Alikadam Zone and Bandarban Zone conducted a joint operation against KNF, known as the Bawm Party, in Jarulchhari village of Ward No. 9 of Bortholi Union of Bilaichhari Upazila and Thingdalte Para of Ward No. 2 of Remakri Prangsa Union of Ruma Upazila.

At one stage of the operation, at 1:45 p.m., there was a gunfight between army of 28 Bir of Ruma Zone and KNF in the border area of Ward No. 2 Thingdalte Para of Remakri Prangsa Union of Ruma Upazila and Jarulchari (Mro Para) of Ward No. 9 of Barathli Union of Bilaichhari Upazila.

In this gunfight, 5 army personnel were sustained bullet injuries on the spot by KNF firing. Among them, 2 soldiers were killed on the spot and 3 other soldiers, including a captain and a major, were reportedly injured. The names of the two soldiers killed were identified as Md. Altaf Ahmed and Md. Tohid. Two officers were identified among the injured. They are Captain Ishtiaq Ahmad Shawkat and Major Manwar of Ruma zone. It is reported that the injured have been taken to Chittagong Combined Military Hospital by helicopter for better treatment.

On the other hand, casualty of several members of the KNF were also reported. However, the exact numbers and names of casualty of KNF members are not yet to be known.

This incident created panic in the public in the area. Jumma villagers are reported to have left the village and taken shelter in a safe place. It is learnt that about 30 people of Bawm community from Ruma and Bilaichari have taken shelter in Mongbuh village of Lwangtalai district of Mizoram state of India, on Wednesday. Former KNF member Bomanun Bawm is also reported to be among that shelter seeker people. Since November 2022, more than 500 people of Bawm community from Ruma and Rowangchari have taken refuge in Mizoram as refugees.

It should be noted that the army have been forming armed terrorist groups one after the another to wage proxy war against the organizations and people engaged in the movement for the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord and have been using those armed terrorist groups to fight on behalf of the army.

The latest of these armed terrorist groups is the KNF, also known as the Bawm Party. In 2008, under the initiative of the then Bandarban Brigade Commander, the Kuki-Chin National Development Organization (KNDO) was first formed under the leadership of Nathan Bawm and Vunchunglian Bawm. It was later renamed the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) in 2016 and engaged in armed activities against the implementation of the CHT Accord.

Then in 2021, Bawm Party started providing shelter and military training to an Islamic militant group called Jamaat-ul-Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya at their KTC camp set up in remote Hills adjacent to Siloupi Para of Prangsa Union of Ruma in exchange for money. At that time, the army tactfully supported the sheltering and military training to the Islamic militants by the KNF by pretending not to know the incident.

Later, when the incident came up in the media, the army and the government were forced to start a combing operation from October 2022 against the said Islamic militant organization and the KNF, which provides shelter to the military training. During the initial phase of the combing operation, the army surrounded the KNF’s Sippi Pahar hideout in Rawangchari in the first week of October, but tactfully managed to allow the KNF and Islamic militants to escape from there.

At one stage of the operation, on October 12, 2022, armed terrorists of Bawm Party and Islamic militants attacked the army in Saizam Par of Bortholi union. Three army personnel were killed and 7 injured in the incident. Apart from this, the army lost one LMG and one CR and several thousand rounds of ammunition from the ammunition box went captured by the attackers. On the other hand, two members of the Bawm Party were killed in this incident.

This is how the KNF which was formed with the help of the army to use them against the implementation of the CHT Accord as well as self-determination movement of the Jumma people has become a boomerang for the army and the government of Bangladesh.