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Page last updated at 16:46 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Army deployed in tense Bangladesh tribal region

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Bangladesh's army has been sent to the south-eastern Chittagong Hill Tracts following violent clashes between Bengali settlers and tribal people.

Officials say at least 30 people were injured in violence centred around the town of Khagrachari.

At least two people were killed in clashes in other parts of the Hill Tracts over the weekend. One unconfirmed report put the toll higher.

The violence is the worst in the area since a peace deal was signed in 1997.

Thousands of Bengalis were settled in the 14,200 sq km (5,500 sq miles) region under a government plan in the 1980s to ease population pressure.

But tensions between the predominantly Buddhist tribal people and the predominantly Muslim settler community have long simmered.

Land dispute

Police say that 100 houses were burnt down in the latest violence in Khagrachari, as relations between the two groups have deteriorated because of disagreements over land ownership.

Officials say that at least two people died in the town of Rangamati.

But human rights group Survival International said that at least six Jumma tribal people were killed - and hundreds of houses burnt to the ground - in an attack by soldiers and settlers on tribal villages in the Sajek region of the Hill Tracts on Saturday.

A tribal organisation, the United People's Democratic Front (UPDF), has now called for a blockade of roads into the hill towns.

The government's peace deal in 1997 with tribal Shanti Bahini guerrillas brought an end to a 25-year insurgency for political autonomy in the Hill Tracts.

The UPDF is against the deal, saying it has failed to establish the rights of tribal people.



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