Bangladesh police arrest 'most wanted' ARSA member at Rohingya camp
Drone cameras aided police in the capture of Abu Bakkar and another militant group leader.
By Sunil Barua for BenarNews 2022.07.19 -- Bangladesh police said Monday they had arrested an ARSA rebel commander at a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar who was among the most wanted criminals - bringing to three the number of suspects captured in the area this month with insurgent links.
Until lately Bangladesh government officials and authorities had long denied allegations about the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) rebel group, which is based in the neighboring state of Rakhine in Myanmar, having a presence in this southeastern district. Cox's Bazar is home to camps and settlements near the Burmese border, where about 1 million Rohingya are sheltering.
Police announced the arrests of ARSA suspects Abu Bakkar, 37, along with Syedul Amin, 26, on Sunday, while Nur Mohammad, 47, was captured on July 7. The court in Cox's Bazar has ordered all three to be jailed, according to Sheikh Mohammad Ali, the police chief in the Ukhia sub-district.
Abu Bakkar, who acted as a camp leader for ARSA, has used aliases to avoid arrests in the past, said Md Kamran Hossain, the additional superintendent for Armed Police Battalion 8 (APBN-8).
"He was listed as most wanted on the police list of criminals in Cox's Bazar," Kamran told BenarNews, adding that Abu Bakkar was allegedly involved in killing six Rohingya in a single incident in October 2021 and allegedly had a role in a more recent killing.
APBN unit 14 commander Naimul Haque said Amin worked as a gun runner while Mohammad was chairman of ARSA's fatwa committee. He said drone cameras had aided police in catching Abu Bakkar and Amin.
Haque said Amin had trained others to use weapons, including G3 battle rifles.
"Police recovered some photographs of Amin that showed he posed with a G3 rifle," Haque said.
Amin told interrogators that he had undertaken weapons training in a Myanmar forest for six months, Haque said.
"Amin's family is living here in Cox's Bazar. He recently came here to meet family and police arrested him," the APBN-14 commander said.
Like Abu Bakkar, Muhammad hid his identity, according to the police official.
"Muhammad used to run his organizational activities at night under the guise of a mawlana [Islamic preacher]. It helped him to operate more easily," Haque said.
More than 800 arrests
Haque told BenarNews that at least 836 Rohingya with alleged ties to ARSA had been arrested over the last six months, adding that officers confiscated three foreign-made handguns and at least 20 other firearms.
Since the September 2021 killing of internationally known Rohingya activist Muhib Ullah, police arrested nearly 2,000 Rohingya allegedly involved in criminal activities, including drug dealing.
Meanwhile, Rohingya and Bangladeshis in Cox's Bazar have expressed fears about terror activities including killings and kidnappings inside the refugee camps.
Ayasur Rahman, the leader of a local neighborhood watch group made up of Bangladeshi citizens who live in communities that surround the camps, urged government officials to take serious action against ARSA members operating in the camps here.
Elsewhere, a Rohingya leader from the Ukhia-1 camp who requested anonymity over safety concerns said residents were afraid.
"ARSA people are now controlling and leading all illegal and unethical activities, including drug dealing inside camps," the leader told BenarNews.
"Those people who are taking a stand against ARSA have become targets, that's why no one is making any comment against them publicly," he said.
Imrul Kayes Chowdhury, chairman of the local government at Ukhia, told BenarNews that members of the host community fear the terror activities inside the refugee camps.
"Incidents of killings and other criminal activities have us scared as law enforcement agencies are struggling to prevent crimes committed by Rohingya," he said.
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