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State funeral for slain officers

world Updated: Mar 02, 2009 23:30 IST
Anis Ahmed
Anis Ahmed
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Tens of thousands of Bangladeshis attended a state funeral on Monday for dozens of army officers killed in a mutiny last week, as a think-tank warned there was still a significant risk of conflict in the country.

The rebellion by paramilitary troops at their Dhaka headquarters was put down within two days, but the brazen attacks highlighted the security concerns confronting the 2-month-old government.

The mutiny by Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) border guards, over pay and the command structure, spread to about a dozen smaller towns across Bangladesh. At least 80 people were killed.

At a mass funeral in the capital on Monday, national and army flags were draped over the coffins. Buglers played the Last Post, and relatives wept.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ordered a special tribunal to try those responsible for the killings, and has sought help from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Britain’s Scotland Yard.

Tensions simmer

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, said “the spread of mutinies to other BDR barracks threatened to spark violence across the country amid fears of retaliation by the military, including a takeover.

“But steps taken by the government appear to have reduced the threat of any coup,” it said. “It highlights Bangladesh as a significant conflict risk alert for March, as tensions within and surrounding the military continue to simmer.”

The military at the weekend pledged its loyalty to Hasina, who came to office two months ago after winning a parliamentary election.

Bangladesh has suffered several military coups since independence in 1971 but officials have said this mutiny was not politically motivated.