Members of Bangladesh’s elite Rapid Action Battalion present suspected members of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), along with confiscated weapons, including bombs and bombmaking materials.
ULFA, the major Indian separatist group, has turned to new sources for illegal weapons, including Burma’s United Wa State Army (UWSA) an ethnic, left-wing rebel militia with close ties to China. The group is allegedly acquiring “Chinese” weapons, Bangladeshi and Indian intelligence officials told the BBC.
During the past decade or so, ULFA has become a key player in arms trafficking in South Asia, peddling weapons through the Chittagong hub to buyers in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, officials allege.
Burma rebels, besides trafficking in secondhand weapons and drugs, are now manufacturing rifles and machine guns.
“The Chinese factories are desperate for profits, and they have not cared who the weapons are reaching. Now they are outsourcing” their know-how, Binalaxmi Nephram, a renowned activist against small arms proliferation, told the BBC.
Since 2009, the Rapid Action Battalion began arresting ULFA leaders and freezing their assets. As a result, the UWSA rebels are seeking “direct contact” with Indian Maoists.