Bangladesh mutineers surrender arms

Premier warns of tough action as army maintains its presence around the guards' complex in Dhaka.

    The army has yet to agree with the amnesty and tanks remain near the BDR complex [AFP]

    Speaking to Al Jazeera, Maria Kuusisto, an analyst for Eurasia Group, a global political risk research and consulting firm based in London, said that Hasina had responded very effectively to the crisis but that the incident raised serious concerns.

    Kuusisto said: "The Bangladesh Rifles are a very significant force in Bangladesh, they number about a quarter of the entire armed forces and they perform various duties including border security, counter-terrorism and some social tasks.

    "There is a large amount of suspicion now within the military towards the Rifles and and also within the government and it will be difficult [for Hasina] to meet these conditions [the Rifles' demands]."

    No army amnesty yet

    In depth

     Focus: Mutiny reveals chaos
     Gallery: The Rifles' revolt
     Country profile: Bangladesh

    Nicholas Haque, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Dhaka, said about 12,000 soldiers and a number of tanks remained deployed just yards from the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) compound.

    "About 500 yards away, there are about 14 to 15 tanks that were previously on army military transorters, but now on the ground.

    "We know the army, navy and air force chiefs are meeting with the prime minster at the moment, and it is still to be confirmed whether the army are accepting the prime minister's amnesty.

    "It is too quick to say that it is the end of the situation. In fact, it is expected that there is more to come."

    The mutiny began on Wednesday at the BDR compound in Dhaka. A minister earlier said shooting in and around the immediate vicinity had claimed about 50 lives.

    Sporadic clashes were reported to have broken out at around a dozen guard posts, including in Chittagong, the second largest city. 

    BDR members barricaded a highway linking two districts in the southern region while they took over camps from army commanders at several places, local officials said.

    'Tough actions'

    Shooting in and around the BDR compound in Dhaka has claimed 50 lives [AFP]
    The turmoil underscores the challenges faced by Hasina, who took office only last month after winning parliamentary elections in December that returned Bangladesh to democracy after nearly two years of army-backed emergency rule.

    "Lay down your guns immediately and go back to barracks. Do not force me to take tough actions or push my patience beyond tolerable limits," Hasina warned in her TV appeal.

    "Give democracy and the economy a chance to develop," she said.

    Major General Shakil Ahmed, an army officer and the director-general of the BDR, was reportedly killed, along with his wife, at the headquarters on Wednesday.

    Other army officers assigned to the BDR are also reported to have abandoned their posts for fear of attack.

    The BDR is led by army officers and it has been a contentious issue with the troops, who want commanders to be drawn from their own ranks.

    The main duty of the BDR is to guard the country's borders, but they often back up the army and police.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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