Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Border guard mutiny in Bangladesh


Troops on the streets of Dhaka

One person has been killed and a number of people wounded in a mutiny at the border guards headquarters in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka.

PM Sheikh Hasina has reportedly offered an amnesty to the troops who mutinied in an attempt to end the crisis.

The mutiny is said to be over pay, conditions and career advancement.

Heavy fighting started at 0330 GMT. An army helicopter patrolling above the barracks was shot at and mortar rounds were also fired.

The mutiny came a day after Sheikh Hasina visited the HQ to hand out medals.

Shopping centre

Police and the regular army were deployed at the headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) after gunfire erupted.


The barracks holds 2,000-4,000 troops.

Some reports said the mutineers had taken officers hostage.

One of the mutineers called the BBC and said the action was because of discrimination against BDR troops by the regular army, who make up the officers.

The mutineers say the BDR rank and file were denied permission to speak to Sheikh Hasina when she visited.

One BDR member was heard addressing the mutineers by megaphone: "Brothers, let's stay together. The army is trying to come in, and we will stop them by any means."

There were reports that some of the paramilitaries also stormed out of the complex and seized the nearby shopping centre.

Representatives of the mutineers were given safe passage, escorted by two MPs, to the office of Sheikh Hasina.


Sheikh Hasina and senior ministers met 14 BDR troops, the PM's deputy press secretary, Nakibuddin Ahmed, said.

The Bangladesh army earlier issued a statement calling on the renegade troops to "surrender and go back to the barracks".

"Any soldiers who fail to give up arms after this announcement will be prosecuted," the statement said.

One mutineer told local television the action would not end unless the government "declares a general amnesty, meets our demands and withdraws the army from outside the compound".

There were fears for dozens of students between the ages of five and 16 who were trapped in a school inside the compound.

Anxious parents gathered near the site. Monira Khatoon, the mother of a 10-year-old boy, told Associated Press news agency: "I'm so worried about my son... I pray no harm will be done."

Boy shot

The BBC's Mark Dummett says there is still intermittent fire in the area and that streets and shops have been closed near the site in the Pilkhana area of Dhaka.

Sheikh Hasina at the barracks on 24 February 2009
Sheikh Hasina visited the barracks on Tuesday
Our correspondent says there is no indication that this is a coup. Bangladesh has witnessed many successful and failed coup attempts.

However, security has been tightened at other BDR barracks around the country and India says it has put its own Border Security Force on alert.

One witness, Asifur Rahman, was on his way home from university when he got caught up in the violence.

"It was pretty bad and everyone was running, trying to get away," he told the BBC.

"One little boy of about eight was shot but he wasn't badly hurt," he said.

Officials at Dhaka's Medical College Hospital said one civilian had been killed. At least six people have been wounded, although it is not clear whether any of them are soldiers.

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