By Shoon Naing
YANGON (Reuters) – The body of a missing Myanmar policeman was found on the country’s troubled border with Bangladesh, state media and officials said on Sunday after a clash with unknown gunmen last week.
Private Aung Kyaw Thet had been missing since his patrol was fired on from the Bangladesh side of the border on Dec. 17, according to the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar.
His body was found on Friday with “gunshot wounds in his face, arm and leg,” the newspaper said, adding that another policeman was wounded in the incident.
The newspaper said the clash occurred in a rugged section of the border in Maungdaw township, the epicentre of violence in August 2017 that drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims out of Myanmar and into Bangladesh.
Myanmar’s military had responded to attacks by a Rohingya insurgent group with a campaign that U.N.-mandated investigators said involved killings, rape and arson carried out with “genocidal intent” against the wider Rohingya population.
Major Mohammad Iqbal of the Bangladesh border guards said his men were not involved in the Dec. 17 incident, but they had heard the exchange of gunfire on the border.
Bangladeshi guards joined a patrol with their Myanmar counterparts to investigate, he said, adding that Aung Kyaw Thet’s body was found on Friday.
Lt. Colonel Tin Han Linn, of Myanmar’s Border Guard Police in Maungdaw, said they knew the location of the body several days before it was recovered on Friday, but had to arrange a joint Myanmar-Bangladesh team to retrieve the corpse.
The identity of the attackers was unknown and police are still investigating, he told Reuters.
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a group claiming to represent the Rohingya, launched the August 2017 attacks on more than two dozen security posts, killing 13 members of Myanmar’s security forces.
ARSA “continues to have a prominent presence” in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh and could launch cross-border raids on Myanmar forces, the International Crisis Group said in a November report on the proposed repatriation of Rohingya refugees.
Fighting between the Myanmar army and the Arakan Army – a group that says it fights for the Rakhine Buddhist ethnic group – has flared this month in areas of northern Rakhine state further from the Bangladesh border, displacing more than 700 people.
(Additional reporting by Mohammad Nurul Islam in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Simon Lewis in Yangon; editing by Darren Schuettler)