03/02/2009, 00.00
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Bangladeshi army pursuing fugitive paramilitaries

The mutiny by the Bangladesh Rifle troops caused 160 deaths, 140 army officers and 20 civilians. The government has asked Scotland Yard and the FBI for help finding the fugitives. Tens of thousands of people attended the state funeral for some of the victims.

Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The army of Bangladesh has begun a manhunt to flush out 1,000 rebels belonging to the Bangladesh Rifle, the border guards who carried out a mutiny that caused more than 160 deaths in the country. Today in Dhaka, a funeral was held for some of the victims, attended by tens of thousands of people.

The government of prime minister Sheikh Hasina has issued arrest warrants for "1,000 guardsmen and accomplices." In order to flush out and punish those responsible for the violence, the prime minister has asked for the help of Scotland Yard and the FBI. The accusations against the rebel paramilitaries include "conspiracy to kill officers and civilians, using weapons and explosives, creating panic, looting and trying to hide bodies."

Last February 25, the Bangladesh Rifle unleashed a revolt over the failure to settle back pay. At first, the government had promised general amnesty for those who surrendered. The discovery of mass graves inside the general headquarters of the border guards and the murder of dozens of army officers convinced the government of Prime Minister Harina to take a hard line against the rebels. Initial reports say that 160 have been killed, 140 army officers and 20 civilians. The military has stressed that those responsible for murder "will be executed."

This morning in Dhaka, tens of thousands of people attended the state funeral for a first group of officers assassinated by the rebels during the mutiny. The coffins, covered with the flag of Bangladesh, were taken to the military stadium in the capital and placed on a red carpet; army officers and soldiers recited prayers for their slain comrades.

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