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Bangladesh boosting border troop presence: India

This came afetr two women were killed and two others seriously hurt after Bangladeshi troops fired mortars along the Assam border.

india Updated: Aug 11, 2006 15:23 IST

Bangladesh is boosting its troop deployment and building bunkers along its frontier with India, a senior Indian official said Friday, after two Indians were killed in border gunfire.

"We have been getting reports of troop build-up by Bangladesh and tension continues in the border area after heavy mortar attacks," SK Datta, Inspector General of India's Border Security Force (BSF), said.

The official said Bangladeshi soldiers were also reported to have dug trenches along the 275-km border with Assam, of which about 70 percent is fenced with barbed wire.

Sylhet sector commander of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Colonel Abul Hossain, however, said Bangladeshi troops were in "defensive" positions.

"There will be a flag meeting with our Indian counterparts on Sunday. For now the situation is under control and we are expecting that nothing will happen before the flag meeting."

Flag meetings involve officers from both sides holding talks on the border in a bid to defuse tensions that surface from time to time.

India says Bangladesh pushes illegal migrants through the border and harbours militants fighting Indian rule in its northeast. Dhaka says New Delhi allows Bangladeshi criminals to take refuge on its soil.

Soldiers from the two countries often exchange gunfire along their 4,000-km border. In the latest incident on Thursday, two women were killed and two others seriously wounded after Bangladeshi troops fired mortars along the Assam border, the BSF said.

At least seven civilians on the Bangladesh side were wounded in attacks by the Indians, Syed Rezaul Gani, a spokesman for the Bangladesh Rifles, was quoted as saying by the Bangladeshi media.

Both sides accused each other of provoking the clash.

There were no reports of clashes overnight, after BSF soldiers were put on maximum alert.

At least 1,500 Indian villagers in four hamlets close to the firing range fled their homes Thursday and took shelter in makeshift relief camps set up by the Assam government, officials said. Some returned home on Friday.

In July, a minister in Assam accused Bangladesh of grabbing two square kilometres (500 acres) of land in India by shifting international boundary markers.

The previous month Bangladesh claimed Indian soldiers killed four villagers in two separate shootings along the border in West Bengal.

In the deadliest border clash between the two sides, 16 Indian and three Bangladeshi soldiers were killed in 2001.