Bangladesh crack forces kill 400 in 'encounters' | world | Hindustan Times
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Bangladesh crack forces kill 400 in 'encounters'

Bangladesh's elite RAB has killed 400 people since it was formed in mid-2004 to combat crimes in the South Asian nation, the head of the force was quoted as saying.

world Updated: Sep 06, 2007 12:34 IST

Bangladesh's elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has killed 400 people since it was formed in mid-2004 to combat crimes in the South Asian nation, the head of the force was quoted as saying on Thursday.

The alleged "terrorists" were killed in "encounters" in which officers shot back after suspects resisted arrest by opening fire, state-run BSS news agency quoted RAB director general Hasan Mahmud Khandaker as saying.

"The government has given firearms to us to use them according to the laws, and rules and regulations. If anyone violates the laws, he must be punished," he told a human rights conference in the southeastern town of Cox's Bazar.

Local and international rights groups including Amnesty International have described "encounters" as extra-judicial killings, and they have demanded full probe into all such incidents.

But authorities in Bangladesh have defended the force, saying it has contributed to a marked improvement in law and order in the country.

The 8,000-strong Rapid Action Battalion, made up of members of the police and armed services, became operational in June 2004 and is credited by the country's previous four-party government with cutting crimes like extortion by half.

The elite force also successfully tracked down the leaders of the country's outlawed Islamic militant group, Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), blamed for series of nationwide bombings that killed at least 28 people in 2005.