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200 BDR rebels arrested,130 officers still missing

Over 130 army officers taken hostage by Bangladesh Rifles soldiers at its Headquarters in Dhaka remained missing.

About 200 renegade Bangladesh Rifles personnel,who took part in the mutiny in the force over pay hike that virtually turned the capital into a battle zone,were arrested on Friday after a nationwide manhunt,even as more than 130 army officers remained missing.

“200 BDR personnel have been arrested from different parts of the city as they fled their barracks after donning civil cloths despite orders to stay back inside the Headquarters,” a Rapid Action Battalion official said.

“We have been given orders to arrest the mutineers… we are searching buses and trucks for any other rebel troops and check points have been erected at all intersection,” RAB spokesman Commander Abul Kalam Azad said.

The manhunt for the mutineers began as the fate of more than 130 army officers taken hostage by border guards remains still unclear as army units joined police and security agencies in frantic search for them.

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Though the officials put the death toll at 22,but it is feared that the figure could jump over 100 as discontented BDR jawans apparently dumped a lot bodies in sewerage manholes.

An armed force spokesman said only 31 out of 168 officers present in the BDR Headquarters in Pilkhana area at the time of uprising were accounted for.

As calm returned to the BDR Headquarters,Home Minister Shahara Khatun and Army chief General Moeen U Ahmed entered the complex which is besieged by anxious relatives looking for their family members as police continues to search and retrieve bodies after the two-day old revolt.

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The rebellion ended on Thursday night after tanks surrounded the huge complex in central Dhaka in a show of force to intimidate and force a surrender by the mutineers.

Nearly 2,000 BDR personnel opened fire on their seniors mostly officers drawn from the army at a ‘darbar’ and seized the Headquarters to protest poor pay and working condition.

Forty-eight hours after the revolt,scores of senior army officers who were manning the top echelons of the force are still missing including the Director Major General Shakil Ahmed.

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Lt Col Syed Quamruzzaman,an army officer who survived the attacks by BDR rank-and-file,said Ahmed was killed at the very onset of the rebellion.

“Four soldiers jumped forward and killed instantly the DG (Ahmed) as he stepped out of the darbar hall as the mutiny started Wednesday,” Quamruzzaman told reporters on Friday.

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

A suspected rebel BDR soldier being held by Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) troops told reporters that the wife of the BDR chief was also killed.

First published on: 27-02-2009 at 13:16 IST
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