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Mutiny-hit Bangladesh to form new border army

Reuters
Mar 21, 2009 at 08:31pm IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh will disband its mutiny-hit paramilitary unit and raise a new force to guard the borders, a top security official said on Saturday.

A mutiny that began on February 25 at the headquarters of the paramilitary force in Dhaka and then spread to a dozen other towns, killed at least 80 people mostly army officers.

The Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), responsible mainly for guarding Bangladesh's more than 4,000 km (2,500 miles) border with India and Myanmar, is traditionally commanded by officers drawn from the army.

NEW WAYS: Army soldiers inspect the assembly hall damaged by the mutineers inside the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) headquarters in Dhaka.

Bangladesh has a history of frequent coup attempts and political intervention by such forces.

The revolt, which lasted 33 hours and ended after the rebels laid down their arms, stoked concerns over the stability of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's two-month-old civilian government. "A new border force will be raised soon with disciplined and competent troops, including those not involved in the BDR mutiny," Brigadier-General Moinul Islam, the new BDR chief told a border security officials at Mymensingh, 150 km (100 miles) north of the capital Dhaka.

The former chief of the BDR, Major-General Shakil Ahmed, were among the 57 officers killed in the mutiny. "The BDR which has been maligned by the last month's mutiny will stand disbanded," Islam said. Investigators say they had detained 200 rebel troops and identified 40 for their direct involvement in carnage and arson during the mutiny.

Hasina has pledged to find out the reasons for the mutiny -- initially believed to have been caused by disputes over pay and command structure -- and its masterminds and perpetrators, and bring them to justice.

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