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Asia-pacific

Officers' bodies found in Bangladesh mutiny

©

Video by Sophie DAVIDSON

Latest update : 2009-02-27

The Bangladesh Rifle mutiny ended with the border guards surrendering to authorities, while the known death toll rose to 18 after the bodies of seven army officers were found in the headquarters of a paramilitary unit on Friday, officials said.

REUTERS  - The decomposing bodies of seven army officers were found in the headquarters of a Bangladesh paramilitary unit on Friday, taking the known death toll from a mutiny over pay and command structures to 18, officials said.


Members of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), a paramilitary border guard force, mutinied on Wednesday when talks with officers broke down and shooting erupted in which passing civilians as well as army officers and mutineers were killed.


The government offered the mutineers an amnesty if they laid down their weapons and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appealed to them in a television broadcast to end the mutiny.


Government tanks, armoured personnel carriers and troops ringed the BDR headquarters complex as the rebels handed over their weapons on Thursday. About 200 were held but many fled the complex before government troops closed in.


The BDR’s officers are traditionally seconded from regular army units, an arrangement resented by some BDR troops, who want their own officer corps. A pay dispute made matters worse.


Though short-lived, the mutiny underscored the challenges facing Hasina, who took office last month after winning parliamentary elections in December that returned Bangladesh to democracy after nearly two years of army-backed emergency rule.


“Go back to your barracks,” she said in her broadcast. “Give democracy and the economy a chance to develop.”


Hasina badly needs to show she can restore stability and persuade foreign investors to help develop Bangladesh, 40 percent of whose people live below the poverty line.


The bodies found early on Friday had been shot and dumped in drains and sewerage canals in the sprawling BDR headquarters in the Pilkhana district of the capital, Dhaka.


Four civilians were killed when they were hit by stray bullets in and around the headquarters.
 

Date created : 2009-02-26

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