Dozens found dead after Bangladesh troop mutiny

Security forces in Bangladesh uncovered dozens of bodies of murdered army officers as a nationwide hunt was launched for renegade border troops behind a deadly mutiny in the capital.
HT Image
HT Image
Updated on Feb 27, 2009 04:34 PM IST
Copy Link
AFP | By, Dhaka

Security forces in Bangladesh on Friday uncovered dozens of bodies of murdered army officers as a nationwide hunt was launched for renegade border troops behind a deadly mutiny in the capital.

Soldiers and sniffer dogs scoured the grounds of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) compound in the capital Dhaka and dug up 20 bodies in one grave alone.

Colonel Rezaul Karim, deputy chief of the elite Rapid Action Battalion force, said soldiers were expecting to find more bodies in the grave. Another 22 bodies had also been found, including some that had been pulled from sewers and manholes.

"The bodies were buried underground in a makeshift grave near the hospital in the BDR headquarters compound. The dirt had been covered with leaves," he said.

The fate of more than 100 army officers taken hostage by the mutineering guards remained unclear, however, after the rank and file troops surrendered and returned to barracks late on Thursday.

"We have arrested more than 200 Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) troops who fled their barracks in civilian dress. We were given orders to arrest the fleeing mutineers," a spokesman for the Rapid Action Battalion, Commander Abul Kalam Azad, told AFP.

He said checkpoints had been set up at all routes leading out of the capital Dhaka and surrounding the BDR barracks, with four suspected mutineers arrested in northern city of Bogra.

"We are searching buses and trucks for any other rebel troops," he added.

The BDR guards, who were demanding better pay and conditions, surrendered after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned they were on a "suicidal" path that could end only in bloodshed.

The premier visited some of the victims both military personnel and their families in hospital on Friday and warned that those responsible for the deaths and injuries would face serious consequences.

As calm returned on Friday to Dhaka, one regular army officer held hostage by the guards told AFP of his escape as his captors opened fire indiscriminately.

"It was cold blooded murder," Syed M Kamruzzaman said, adding that BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed was gunned down in front of him. Officials would not confirm Ahmed's death.

"They hurled abuse at us and gunned down whoever they wanted. I was shot at seven times and was lucky to get out alive."

One minister said 50 officers may have been killed.

Tensions in the BDR had been simmering for months but erupted into violence early Wednesday when senior officers rejected appeals for more pay, subsidised food and holidays.

It then petered out, however, after Sheikh Hasina who took office only two months ago, although she had served as premier once before appeared on national television and threatened to put down the mutiny by force.

The violence was the first major crisis she has faced since her landslide election victory on December 29 ended two years of army backed rule.

Manzoor Hasan, the director of BRAC University's Institute of Governance Studies in Dhaka, told AFP there were a "few worrying hours" where the prime minister appeared to be losing control.

"It was a bit of a baptism by fire for her. It was a critical test but I think in the end she tackled it competently," he said.

The revolt has highlighted the frustrations felt by many in impoverished Bangladesh, which has been hit by high food prices, a slowing economy and rampant corruption.

Bangladesh has had a history of political violence, coups and counter coups since winning independence from Pakistan in 1971.

It was run by a military dictator from 1982 to 1990, before democracy was restored in 1991. Then, in January 2007, the army again stepped in, cancelled elections and declared a state of emergency after months of political unrest.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • A healthcare worker in protective gear collects a sample from a resident at a Covid-19 testing booth in Beijing, China, on Tuesday. (Bloomberg)

    City to be locked down after first cases of Omicron subvariant BA.5 reported in China

    The city of Xian in northwest China's Shaanxi province will be locked down from Wednesday, following a community outbreak of the highly transmissible Omicron BA.5, the first cases of the Covid subvariant in China, becoming the latest challenge to the country's zero-Covid policy. While in-house dining has been suspended, take-aways will be allowed, authorities said. “Special places such as prisons, welfare homes, and old-age institutions will be closed for management,” a state media report said.

  • The pandemic has fueled a shift in attitudes about work, with many workers seeking to maintain some of the flexibility they’ve experienced over the last two years.

    Dutch House approves to make work from home a legal right

    The Dutch parliament approved legislation to establish work-from-home as a legal right, making the Netherlands one of the first countries to grant remote working flexibility by law. The legislation was approved by the lower house of the bicameral parliament of the Netherlands on Tuesday. It still needs a nod from the Dutch senate before its final adoption.

  • Bystanders look on as smoke rises from the central market of Sloviansk, north of Kramatosk.

    Ukrainian city of Sloviansk hit by 'massive shelling' by Russia: Mayor

    A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in seizing an eastern Ukraine province essential to his wartime aims, a city in the path of Moscow's offensive came under sustained bombardment, its mayor said Tuesday. Mayor Vadim Lyakh said in a Facebook that “massive shelling” pummeled Sloviansk, which had a population of about 107,000 before Russian invaded Ukraine more than four months ago.

  • Abortion rights protesters chant during a Pro Choice rally at the Tucson Federal Courthouse in Tucson, Arizona.

    Mississippi judge to hear challenge to abortion law by state's only clinic

    A judge is holding a hearing Tuesday to consider a lawsuit filed by Mississippi's only abortion clinic, which is trying to remain open by blocking a law that would ban most abortions in the state. The Jackson Women's Health Organization sought a temporary restraining order that would allow it to remain open, at least while the lawsuit remains in court. It does not have an exception for pregnancies caused by incest.

  • There have been no regular routes between China and India since November 2020 and no flights have been notified yet between the two countries, it said.

    China resumes in'tl flights after 2 years, services to India still in limbo

    China has started permitting international flights after a two-year ban due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but there is no word yet on the resumption of air services to India even after Beijing lifted a visa ban for Indian professionals and their families last month. China is also processing the list of hundreds of Indian students wanting to return to the country to re-join their colleges. Beijing is reportedly reviewing the Indian student lists.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, July 05, 2022