Bangladesh Says Mutinous Guards Surrender



Bangladesh's government says all mutinous border guards have ended their rebellion. That word came after army tanks took positions outside the Dhaka headquarters of the border force. Some officials put the death toll from the two-day uprising at more than 50.

Word of the surrender by mutinous Bangladesh border guards came after the country's prime minister, Sheik Hasina, took to the airwaves with a stern appeal to the mutineers not to take a "suicidal" route.

In a nationally broadcast address, the prime minister promised to look into the grievances of the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles. Thus, they should surrender their weapons and return to their barracks. If they did not, Sheik Hasina warned, she would be forced to take "tough action" in the interest of the nation.

A government spokesman says the situation is now completely under control. While the mutiny appears over at the headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles, the situation in other parts of the country is unclear.  Mobile phone service was cut in much of Bangladesh, under government order, apparently to keep the rebel units from communicating with each other.

The mutiny began early Wednesday at the headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles in Dhaka. The clash left dead a number of their army officer supervisors, apparently slain by the rebel soldiers. Some civilians were hit in cross-fire Wednesday and there are also reports of casualties among members of the mutineers.

The paramilitary border force has tens of thousands of guards, who are posted at 64 camps throughout Bangladesh. The rebels say they resent having army officers always appointed as their commanders and want better pay in wake of rising food prices.

In exchange for ending the uprising, Bangladesh's government promised amnesty to those participating in the mutiny. But it remains to be seen whether those of the paramilitary force implicated in killing their superior army officers will face charges.

Reports of guards firing their weapons along the border with India prompted fresh concern here. India and Bangladesh share a 4,000-kilometer-long border that is porous and poorly demarcated in some places.

India's home minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, says the country's Border Security Force - the BSF - will remain vigilant.

"I don't think that the BDR-Army dispute in Bangladesh will spill over into our border," Chidambaram said.  "Our BSF is on the alert and there is no threat on the border."

The mutiny was the first crisis for the administration of Prime Minister Hasina. She regained power following peaceful elections in December, taking over from an interim military-backed government.

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