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Border guard mutiny in Bangladesh

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Border guard mutiny in Bangladesh

Post by viper on Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:54 pm

The mutiny by paramilitary troops in Bangladesh has spread to towns outside the capital, Dhaka, reports say.

The spread of the mutiny is being reported even as troops in Dhaka began laying down their arms and releasing hostages, reports say.

Nearly 50 people are feared dead in Bangladesh after border guards staged an armed mutiny on Wednesday.

The mutiny was said to be over pay conditions. The government has offered the troops a general amnesty.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Dhaka says that reports are coming in that the mutiny, which erupted without warning on Wednesday morning at the headquarters of Bangladesh border force in Dhaka, has spread to other towns in the country.

The Bangladesh Rifles or BDR has 45,000 men stationed at 64 camps across the country.

Our correspondent says that there are unconfirmed reports of gunfire in the main port city of Chittagong, at Feni, on the eastern border with India, in Rajshahi in the north west, and Sylhet in the north.

A man claiming to be a BDR soldier in Chittagong said they had opened fire to prevent regular army units from entering their camp, unconfirmed reports say.

Another report said similar incidents had occurred at Cox's Bazaar and Feni.

In Khulna in the south, border guards have reportedly blocked a road, but no shooting has taken place.

There are no reports of any casualties in these reported incidents.

Talks with PM

Bangladesh state minister for law and parliamentary affairs Mohammad Quamrul Islam told reporters that nearly 50 people have been killed in "sporadic fighting" during the mutiny in Dhaka on Wednesday.

rder guards have begun laying down arms at the headquarters of the BDR after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered the troops a general amnesty.

The mutiny was said to be over pay conditions and career advancement.

Sheikh Hasina and senior ministers met 14 of the BDR troops at her office late on Wednesday after they were escorted there from their headquarters.

The prime minister offered the general amnesty and urged the paramilitaries to set free officers they had taken hostage.

She said she would look into their grievances over pay and conditions.

"The guards have begun surrendering arms after we have offered amnesty to them," said Home Minister Shahara Khatun.

"The prime minster has granted a general amnesty to them and they should not fear any reprisals," said Mr Khatun.

About 50 women and children, mainly family members of officers attacked during the mutiny, have also left the compound.

However, Deputy Law Minister Kamrul Islam said the situation remained tense, as thousands of armed troops were believed to still be in the BDR headquarters.

"We are preparing to go inside the compound again and quicken the surrender process," said Mr Islam.

Battle

The mutineers seized the military barracks in the Pilkhana area of Dhaka on Wednesday morning, reportedly taking more than 100 people hostage.

Thousands of police and troops were deployed outside the compound to try to quell the mutiny and the rebels battled troops for several hours.

Exactly how many people were killed and injured remains unclear. A number of passersby were injured when they were caught in the crossfire.

The fate of all the hostages has also not been confirmed. The bodies of two senior officers seized by the renegade guards were discovered dumped in a drain outside the camp earlier on Wednesday.

It is hard to imagine how a dispute over pay could have escalated so rapidly and so violently, says the BBC's Mark Dummett in Dhaka.

One of the mutineers told the BBC that the guards had had to take up arms to resolve problems with their officers.

"Our families might suffer because of what we have done, but they have been exploiting us for more than 200 years," the man said.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7909323.stm
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