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Feb 27, 2009 at 11:05am IST

Bangladesh Rifles chief feare dead in mutiny

Dhaka: Major General Shakil Ahmed, director general of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), died in a hail of bullets within 10 minutes of the mutiny by the troopers that ended after two days of killing and chaos.

The general's killing was confirmed late Thursday evening by Lt Col Syed Kamruzzaman, who survived the killing-spree by troopers of the country's border guards, a media report said on Friday.

Over 50 people, many of them officers of the Bangladesh Army, are reported to have been killed during the mutiny.

SPILLING BLOOD: Before the mutinous soldiers surrendered, over 50 people were killed.

The shooting by mutinous troopers began at the Darbar Hall, which is the conference room, at BDR headquarters at Pilkhana in the national capital Wednesday morning, The Daily Star newspaper said.

Its website Star Online Friday said that two bodies of an elderly couple was also found at the director general's residence.

They were identified as those of a retired colonel and his wife who had come for medical treatment and were guests of General Ahmed.

Qamaruzzaman told the media at the staff college officers' mess in Mirpur Cantonment that he was saved by "a few good jawans".

As a band of troopers wearing red bandanas opened fire inside the conference room at around 9.45 a.m., Kamruzzaman and 11 other officers, including the director general, took shelter in corners of the stage in the hall.

After around five minutes, some troopers ordered them to come out and walk in a line led by General Ahmed.

"As the DG (Shakil Ahmed) climbed down the stairs of darbar hall, one jawan sprayed him with bullets. Soon the other jawans there started firing on us," said Kamruzzaman.

"I dived on the ground after a bullet hit me in the stomach. Somehow I managed to crawl inside a washroom. A few minutes later, some jawans found that I was hiding in a toilet. They fired a volley of shots at me, but miraculously none hit me," he went on.

"As one jawan pointed his gun at my chest, in desperation I hugged him tightly and asked, 'Why will you kill me? What harm did I do to you?'.

"I don't know what occurred to them. They said 'OK, we won't kill you'. They took me to another place and kept me hidden from others."

Lt Col Kamruzzaman, General Staff Officer 1 (Communication), said, when the troopers were taking him to safety he saw bodies of Major General Shakil Ahmed, Brig Bari, Col. Moshiur, Col. Zahid, Col. Anis, Col. Emdad and Lt. Col. Ershad.

He said over 160 officers were in the darbar hall when the killing spree began.

However, he could not say what happened to others.

He said as another group spotted him a few hours before the end of the mutiny, he told them that it was their men who hid him there.

"They told me, 'OK, we'll spare you, but you have to run as we order'. As I started zigzagging down the lawn, some armed jawans attempted to shoot at me. But the ones who saved me first came to my rescue again. They took me to the quarter guardroom from where I was finally rescued," Kamruzzaman said.

At the same briefing, Major Monir described how he cheated death hiding in a drain and then inside the false ceiling of the darbar hall for almost two days.

"I watched helpless as jawans killed other officers," he said.

Col Asif, Lt Col Yasmin and her husband AKM Arifur Rahman, a district judge of Dhaka, spoke in the briefing.

They claimed that the BDR men looted valuables from almost all households.

The mutiny by the BDR troopers broke out Wednesday morning when they took control of their headquarter in the capital city. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered general amnesty to them, but the troopers were defiant and refused to lay down arms.

The government held talks with a delegation of the mutineers Thursday and an agreement was reached but by that time, the mutiny spread to other BDR camps located all over the country.

The revolt ended in the face of an imminent attack by the Bangladesh Army which moved tanks into position outside the BDR headquarters. The mutineers then laid down their arms.

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