Bangladesh military says 72 officers still missing after mutiny killing
DHAKA, Bangladesh - Bangladesh's military said 72 officers were still missing yesterday after a two-day mutiny by border guards in which at least 76 people died. The government pledged a full investigation as it swiftly moved to restore confidence and reassert control.
Firefighters were still searching mass graves and sewers at the border guards' headquarters in the capital, Dhaka, where the bodies of senior officers were dumped by the mutineers. Workers also scoured nearby areas, including a pond, in an intense search for more victims.
Among the dead was Major General Shakil Ahmed, commander of the Bangladesh Rifles border force, and a woman that authorities believed was his wife.
Brigadier General Mahmud Hossain, an Army spokesman, said at least 33 officers survived the carnage but 72 were still unaccounted for.
"This barbaric incident has caused much anger among the soldiers, which will be quelled by a thorough investigation, a trial of the killers and their proper punishment," Hossain said.
The insurrection apparently erupted over the guards' longstanding complaints that their pay hasn't kept pace with soldiers in the army - anger aggravated by the rise in food prices that has accompanied the global economic crisis. The guards earn about $100 a month.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who took office in January, sought to act decisively and quash questions about stability in the poor South Asian nation during the first major challenge her administration has faced.
Hasina ended the revolt in two days, earning high marks for preventing further bloodshed, by persuading the guards to surrender Thursday with promises of amnesty coupled with threats of military force. However, Hasina said Friday that there would be no amnesty for any killers and her government gave border guards across the country 24 hours yesterday to return to their posts or report to a local police station.
Journalists yesterday were allowed inside the border guards' compound. The officers' quarters and offices were ransacked and looted and the hulks of burned cars were outside.
The commander's home was littered with broken furniture. The bodies of an elderly couple, identified as a retired army officer and his wife who were houseguests, were found at the residence, investigators said.