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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 April, 2003, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
India-Bangladesh border clash
Indian border troops
Border relations are tense

Indian and Bangladeshi border guards have exchanged heavy fire along a disputed stretch of frontier.

A company commander of the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) was injured in the clash, as was a soldier from the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR).

Firing broke out after Indian troops blocked Bangladeshi farmers from land which both sides claim.

The incident comes as senior BSF and BDR officials are meeting in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, to discuss border tensions.

Assault rifles

BSF spokesman PP Gupta told the BBC that firing had started when Bangladeshi farmers tried to cross a canal, backed by BDR forces.

Mr Gupta said the BDR had fired first and the BSF had retaliated.

A local Bangladeshi official said more than 100 shots had been fired in the exchange, which took place at Tetulia in Panchagarh district.

He said no civilians had been hurt, and the wounded soldier had been taken to hospital.

The Bangladeshi farmers had been cultivating the disputed land for years, the official said.

Alarm

Reports say both sides used assault rifles and light machine guns in the two-hour clash.

Locals, many of them labourers on a nearby tea estate, are said to have panicked on hearing the shots.

Correspondents say the incident underlines how tense the situation is between the two border forces.

Relations began to worsen earlier this year when Indian border guards tried to push back hundreds of people who they said were illegal migrants from Bangladesh - a move resisted by the BDR.




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