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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 October, 2004, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
'Pirates' kill Bangladesh crew
By Roland Buerk
BBC correspondent in Dhaka

The bodies of 14 fishermen have been found locked inside a hold on their trawler off the coast of Bangladesh.

The local authorities in Cox's Bazaar, in southern Bangladesh where they were found, say it appears they were killed by pirates.

Robberies are frequent in the waters of the Bay of Bengal.

Police boarded the vessel after an alarm was raised by one member of the boat's crew who had managed to hide as the pirates came on board.

He told them how the fishermen were pushed into the refrigerated hold of their trawler.

The hatches were closed on top of them and by the time the pirates left they had frozen to death.

Dangerous waters

The police in Cox's Bazaar have launched an investigation.

The deputy commissioner of the coastal district says it appears the attack was carried out as a punishment after the boat's crew reported an earlier robbery.

Bangladesh's waters are rated among the most dangerous in the world by the International Maritime Organisation.

The government has rejected the assessment saying most incidents are minor and involve fishing boats rather than ocean-going ships.

But last month the Bangladesh Air Force was ordered to put its helicopters on standby to help vessels in distress and the police were directed to launch raids on the pirates' bases on land.

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