Myanmar's navy reportedly opened fire on the Bangladeshi fishermen who were sailing in the troubled waters of the Bay of Bengal in the border region between the two countries on Tuesday (27 December). At least six Bangladeshi fishermen were injured in the firing, which occurred in the Bay of Bengal near an islet called St Martin's Island.
The wounded victims were identified as Osman Gani, 22, Rafiqul Islam, 30, Nur Ahmed, 32 and Saiful Islam, 35 while the names of two others are not available.
In total, there were 14 fishermen and crew on the trawler which was on the voyage. "They said the navy ship started firing on them without any warning. Four fishermen were injured. They had bullet wounds all over their hands and feet," coastguard officer in the region, Saiful Absar told the AFP news agency.
It is believed that the Myanmar navy entered the Bangladeshi waters during the incident though the version needs to be corroborated. Absar added that the authorities are still looking at whether the Myanmar vessel violated the territorial sovereignty of Bangladesh.
The shooting episode comes at a time when tensions are already running high between the two Asian nations over the Rohingya influx. Following an ambush against police officers in early October – the incident in which nine were killed – Myanmar's military has launched a massive crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in October.
Violence in northern Rakhine state, which shares a border with Bangladesh, has been escalating over the past few months, with the Myanmar military increasing its clampdown. The recent wave of unrest has displaced as many as 30,000 minority Rohingyas – who are not recognised as citizens in Myanmar – and killed up to 86 people.