Calm returns to BDR HQ; over 130 army officers still missing

Over 130 army officers taken hostage by Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) soldiers at its headquarters remained missing as the mutiny by border guards ended, leaving more than 100 dead, including its chief, officials said.
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Updated on Feb 27, 2009 11:47 AM IST
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PTI | ByAnisur Rahman, Dhaka

Over 130 army officers taken hostage by Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) soldiers at its headquarters remained missing today as the bloody mutiny by border guards ended leaving more than 100 dead, including its chief, officials said on Thursday.

The death toll could not be officially confirmed but security sources said they feared the figure to be over 100 as some 130 army officers remained missing with overnight frantic search for bodies at the mutiny-ravaged BDR headquarters in Pilkhana area here.

The survivors confirmed the death of BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed at the very onset of the rebellion at a 'darbar' or meeting of soldiers with senior officers.

"Four soldiers jumped forward and killed instantly the DG sir (Ahmed) as he stepped out of the darbar hall as the mutiny started Wednesday," Lieutenant Colonel Syed Quamruzzaman told reporters this morning.

Elite Armed Police Battalion and Dhaka Metropolitan Police units took control of the main Pilkhana headquarters of the paramilitary border guards after the mutineers surrendered their arms and returned to barracks.

The police carried out a frantic search along with fire service rescuers overnight recovering seven more bodies.

"The mutineers gunned down whoever they wanted. I was shot at seven times and was lucky to get out alive," Quamruzzaman said.

Earlier, officials said 24 captive officers and stranded families of a number of others were rescued as the rebellions soldiers ended their laying down weapons.

One minister earlier said 50 officers may have been killed.

A lawmaker of former military dictator and President Hussain Muhammed Ershad's Jatiya Party, who entered the BDR headquarters at Pilkhana, the site of the mutiny, said he visited Maj Gen Ahmed's house and found it ransacked and saw an unidentified body lying there.

The mutineers surrendered after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned they were on a "suicidal" path that could only end in bloodshed.

Shortly after her address, army tanks surrounded the BDR headquarters in the heart of Dhaka and also took positions near the residence of the Prime Minister.

Faced with the possibility of an army operation, the mutinous soldiers laid down their arms and released hostages. Hasina has already offered the mutineers an amnesty and also promised to address complaints over low pay and working conditions.

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