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The BBC's Tim Irwin
"Border skirmishes are not uncommon"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
India-Bangladesh border battle
An injured Bangladeshi soldier is lifted to safety
An injured Bangladeshi soldier is lifted to safety
At least 18 soldiers have been killed in an exchange of fire between Indian and Bangladeshi border guards at a frontier outpost, according to officials in Dhaka.

A warlike situation is prevailing in the area

Local official John F Karshiing
Bangladeshi officials say that two of their soldiers died and 16 Indian border guards were killed in the clash at a border outpost in Kurigram.

But India says the toll is much lower and that only five soldiers - three Indians and two Bangladeshis - have died.

Correspondents describe it as the worst ever outbreak of fighting between the two countries.

The fighting, which is believed to be continuing, comes amidst a tense stand-off in another border outpost in the north-east Indian state of Meghalaya.

India says Bangladeshi troops overran and occupied a disputed border village near the town of Dauki and are holding more than 20 of its soldiers hostage.

Bangladesh said Indian forces launched an early morning attack on their posts in the frontier district of Kurigram - which lies on the border with Indian state of Assam.


"Sixteen troops of the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) got killed during a fight on the border at noon today ," chief of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Major-General Fazlur Rahman told Reuters.

Two wounded Indian soldiers were captured during the fighting and have been sent to Dhaka for treatment, he said.

Indian border guards
Indian border guards launched a dawn attack
There has been no word as yet from the Indian side confirming the deaths.

But India has summoned the Bangladesh High Commissioner in Delhi to lodge an official protest over the "intrusion" in Meghalaya.

The Bangladesh foreign ministry is expected to summon the Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka to lodge a counter protest.

Troubled border

India says Bangladeshi troops occupied the border village of Pyrdiwah, forcing its residents to flee.

"A warlike situation is prevailing in the area with Bangladesh Rifles men and some 500 regular Bangladesh army soldiers encircling the BSF outpost by digging trenches and setting up bunkers," John F Karshiing, spokesman for the local administrative body said.

Senior BSF and BDR officials are reported to have met on Tuesday night to resolve the issue, but it is unclear if they made any progress.

The border between the two countries has been in dispute since the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947.

The ownership of several villages on both sides of the border are disputed and claimed by both countries.

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