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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bangladesh border guards end mutiny

Thu, 26 Feb 2009 13:50:38 GMT | PressTV
Bangladeshi soldiers carry machine gun shells as they gather outside the Bangladesh Rifles headquarters complex in Dhaka
The rebel soldiers of paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles have reportedly ended their mutiny, laid down their arms and freed their hostages.

After Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned the paramilitary members of being on a "suicidal" path that could only end in bloodshed, the mutiny ended in surrender.

"We don't want to use force to break the standoff," Hasina said. "But don't play with our patience. We will not hesitate to do whatever is needed to end the violence if peaceful means fails."

Hours after the prime minister's warning Bangladeshi tanks rolled into the capital, taking up position near the compound seized by the guards.

A government spokesman, speaking from where the Bangladeshi border guards had mutinied in Dhaka, said the crisis was over.

"All the troops have surrendered their weapons and gone back to their barracks," the prime minister's spokesman, Abul Kalam Azad, told AFP.

All hostages in the custody of the mutineers at the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) headquarters in Dhaka have been freed, he added.

Despite earlier reports claiming that as many as 50 officers may have been killed by their troops, Azad said the official death toll from the revolt stood at 11 with dozens more injured.

The refusal of senior officers to consider appeals for more pay, subsidized food and holidays has reportedly been the cause of the revolt which began at the BDR headquarters in Dhaka early Wednesday.

Bangladesh, a nation of 140 million, is among the world's poorest countries. The country's political life has often been the scene of violent infighting, followed by military coups.

However, Hasina -- leader of the Awami League -- came to power by a landslide victory last December and ended two years of army-backed emergency rule.

The mutiny is believed to have been a big test for the newly elected government trying to re-establish civilian control in the prone-to-disaster country.

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