E-Paper বাংলা
2024-04-05 11:52:03

Terror resurfaces in hills as KNF sparks panic

Special Correspondent

Terror resurfaces in hills as KNF sparks panic

The Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), a separatist armed group operating in the hill district of Bandarban, has reignited fear in the region with a series of bank robberies. Over the course of two consecutive days, the group looted money from three government commercial bank branches, sending shockwaves through local communities.

While efforts were made to foster peace through virtual meetings and direct negotiations between the Peacekeeping Committee and the KNF, recent events have raised concerns about the group's activities. The sudden surge in armed robberies contrasts with a period of relative calm following previous peace talks.

Last year, the KNF made headlines with a deadly attack in Rawangchari, Bandarban, resulting in the loss of eight lives. Locals now report a resurgence in KNF activity, including indiscriminate attacks, looting, and violence against those involved in government development projects. The group's actions have forced many hill residents to flee their homes in search of safety.

The recent bank robberies have further fueled apprehension, with locals speculating that the KNF may be driven by financial desperation. Prior to targeting the banks, gunmen reportedly raided shops in Thanchi Bazar, highlighting a pattern of escalating violence in the region.

According to local sources, that dream of kukiland by the alleged separatist KNF has been dashed after continuous operations by security forces in the hills. The armed wing of the KNF, the Kuki-Chin National Army’s most of the hideouts in the hilly areas are now controlled by the Bangladesh Army.

As a result, KNF members, having lost the power and opportunity of armed action, are now carrying out isolated incidents of extortion and kidnapping for ransom. Market attacks and bank robberies are believed to be part of it. Before this, law enforcement forces have found the involvement of KNF or KNA in several cases of kidnapping and extortion.

Apart from KNF or KNA, JSS, UPDF and other regional armed organizations are also continuing reckless terrorist activities with the dominance of extortion in the three hill districts.

Meanwhile, an operation aimed at restoring peace to the hills has been active for the past year. As part of that, the peace establishment committee and the armed organization Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) held their first direct meeting on November 5. The convener of the committee and chairman of the Bandarban Hill District Parishad, Kyashaihla, led the meeting on behalf of the peace establishment committee.

The second direct meeting was held with them on March 6. In the second round of direct talks, 7 issues were agreed upon. Among these, there was an agreement on withdrawal of KNF cases, release of jailed prisoners, rehabilitating citizens who fled to Mizoram, stop extortion, bring KNF members back to normal life and give them jobs. But after the terrorist attack on the bank, the peace settlement committee suspended the talks with the KNF yesterday.

Journalist Monirul Islam Manu, an important member of the 19-member peace establishment committee, told Bangladesh Pratidin, “We have been advancing the peace dialogue well by holding many meetings." No major events happened during this period.”

“Suddenly, in their actions, there seems to be a change in the command level. Apart from this, this armed organization is in economic crisis. Due to the need for cash, they resorted to risky activities like robbing markets and banks. Apart from this, the organizational strength of the security forces is very weak. They may think that the dream of a separate land is not possible. That's why they want to show their power,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sonali Bank Manager Nizam Uddin Russell, who was abducted in Ruma Upazila of Bandarban, was rescued on Thursday evening after two days of abduction. Security forces are continuing to nab the armed terrorists.

In protest of this incident and demanding the arrest of the terrorists, a protest rally was held at Bandarban Press Club premises on the initiative of Parbatya Constituent Assembly. The central chairman of the organization, Kazi Mujibur Rahman, demanded the immediate recovery of illegal weapons in the Chattogram Hill Tracts and the establishment of temporary army camps at various sensitive points.

Kazi Mujibur Rahman, president of the Chattogram Hill Tracts Citizens Parishad, said that they (KNA) are still rampaging in the hilly areas. Due to their rampage, travel and tourist movement in Ruma, Rowangchari and Thanchi upazilas is being obstructed. There is a panic everywhere. However, despite this situation, the security forces have a fairly strong position.

“In the geographical environment of the hilly areas and the current situation, the army has no option. It is the need of the hour to open more army camps in the sensitive areas of the hilly regions. Areas from which army camps were once withdrawn also need to be reopened quickly. It is not possible to ensure peace, stability and security in the hilly areas with police alone,” he added.

(The report was published on print and online versions of The Bangladesh Pratidin on April 05 and rewritten in English by Tanvir Raihan)

Latest News