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Bangladesh mutiny: Ring leader of BDR revolt arrested

world Updated: Mar 02, 2009 18:03 IST

A senior officer of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), identified as the "ring leader" of the bloody rebellion, has been arrested and a massive manhunt was underway to track down about 1,000 fugitive soldiers facing murder charges.

Suspecting conspiracy behind the two-day mutiny that left at least 73 Army officers dead, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sought the assistance of FBI and Scotland Yard to probe the massacre, as authorities said they have discovered another mass grave in the BDR headquarters.

Touhidul Alam, Deputy Assistant Director of the BDR, who led a rebel delegation in talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has been taken into custody while attempting to flee the country, said Nabo Jyoti Khisha, the chief of Lalbagh police station where a case has been filed.

"The massacre took place under his (Alam's) leadership ... The rebels had accepted him as their leader," Khisha said.

Police claimed that they have gathered "enough evidence" against Alam and other conspirators of the two-day mutiny.

Among the 73 officers who were killed was BDR chief Maj Gen Shakil Ahmed. Mutilated bodies of his wife, Nazneen, and three other civilians were recovered from the mass graves and drains inside the BDR complex.

Seventy-two army officers are still missing.

As police and intelligence investigations got underway in Bangladesh's most high profile case, troops launched a massive manhunt to 1,000 fugitive soldiers blamed for the mutiny.

The Home Ministry put out a notice asking people to inform their nearest police stations immediately if they have any information about absconding BDR personnel.

"We have already gathered enough evidence including the statements of survivors and the process is underway to collect more," said Khisha.

Lalbagh police have filed cases against three other BDR deputy assistant directors and two lower rank soldiers of the paramilitary troops for leading the revolt, taking hostage, setting fire and hiding the bodies of the officials.

Meanwhile, President Zillur Rahman today led thousands of mourners at a mass state funeral for the 49 army officers and one family member slain in the violent mutiny.

Air force jets flew overhead in salute at the mass funeral prayers held at the national parade ground here today. Army Chief Gen Moeen U Ahmed was also present.

Hasina has already indicated that she plans to form special tribunals to try those who organised the mutiny, which she has described as "planned massacre" that may have received outside help.