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Charges filed in Bangladesh revolt

March 02, 2009|Associated Press

DHAKA, BANGLADESH — More than 1,000 border guards were charged Sunday with murder and arson in an uprising that left at least 148 people dead or missing, most of them army officers whose bodies were hurriedly dumped by the mutineers.

The details of what the prime minister called "a planned massacre" emerged after the government withdrew its promise of amnesty to the paramilitary force and sought to repair its increasingly tense relations with the military.

One man, among only 33 army officers known to have escaped from the two-day siege in the guards' headquarters, described the scene as "like doomsday for me."

Prime Minister Sheik Hasina Wajed met with military officials who were furious that she had offered amnesty to the mutinous border guards to persuade them to surrender. The officers contended that lives could have been saved if Wajed had ordered an army assault on the guards' compound.

Wajed told Parliament that she had asked for help from the FBI to investigate.

"We'll definitely unearth everything," she said.

The government announced that those guards directly responsible would not fall under the amnesty.

Firefighters have recovered 77 bodies, but at least 71 officers were still unaccounted for in the uprising at the Bangladesh Rifles border force headquarters in the capital, Dhaka. Teams searched for bodies buried in the compound or dumped in nearby sewers. Most of the missing were presumed dead, said Sheik Mohammed Shajalal, a firefighter overseeing the search.

The charges filed Sunday named six border guards and left more than 1,000 unnamed, according to police official Nobojyoti Khisa. Thousands of border guards were at the headquarters when the mutiny began Wednesday over pay and other disputes.

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