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Bangladesh troops capture suspected tribal rebels

The soldiers captured six suspected tribal criminals after an exchange of gunfire at their forest hideout in a remote hill district.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 13:37 IST

Bangladesh soldiers captured six suspected tribal criminals after an exchange of gunfire on Sunday at their forest hideout in a remote hill district, police said.

The half-hour shootout ensued when an army patrol surrounded the criminal's den at a forested hill in Khagrachari district, 177 kilometers southeast of the capital, Dhaka, police officer Uttam Kumar Pal said.

The six suspects, who were caught along with two rifles and bullets, were handed over to police in Khagrachari town, Pal said.

Police later filed an arms case against them, he added. Khagrachari is part of is one of three hill districts where Bangladeshi tribal rebels waged a 25-year insurgency seeking autonomy before signing a 1997 peace deal with the government.

Many former rebels who kept their weapons are now believed to run criminal gangs involved in extortion, kidnapping, illegal logging or smuggling in the region bordering India and Myanmar.

On Saturday, security forces unearthed a massive cache of heavy weapons and ammunition after a raid at a forest hide-out in neighboring Bandarban hill district, the military said in a statement.

The weapons seized included machine guns, assault rifles, rocket launchers, mortar shells, hand grenades, anti-personnel mines, thousands of bullets and military uniforms, according to the statement. No arrests were made.

Security forces have stepped up patrols in the area since several hauls of military-grade weapons were seized there in the past two years.

First Published: Mar 07, 2006 13:37 IST