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Bangladesh Holds Mass Military Funeral for Army Officers Slain by Mutineers

Bangladesh's army has held a mass funeral to bury officers slain in last week's mutiny by paramilitary troops. The United States is expected to assist Bangladesh in probing the massacre while the military begins a manhunt for more than 1,000 suspects.

With military pomp and Muslim prayers, Bangladesh bid a tearful farewell Monday to army officers slain in last week's mutiny by paramilitary troops.

Tens of thousands of mourners gathered at a military stadium in Dhaka where 50 coffins, including that of a major general who commanded the Bangladesh Rifles, were draped with national and army flags.
 
Bangladesh intends to charge more than 1,000 mutineers. It says some could face the gallows for murder.

The army, in what has been dubbed "Operation Rebel Hunt," is searching for those who fled following last week's mutiny in which officers were shot and bayoneted. Bodies were dumped in sewers or hastily buried in mass graves. Some family members of officers were also killed.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is asking for international assistance to investigate the massacre.

Ms. Hasina is telling Parliament she has requested help from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Britain's Scotland Yard.
 
U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, James Moriarty tells VOA News that request is on its way to Washington.

"I've sent it in to Washington with a strong endorsement," he said. "Basically I anticipate that we're going to look at it and try to figure out what we can do to help. We strongly support the current government and we want to see that this investigation goes smoothly."

The ambassador has also spoken with the commander of Bangladesh's army, General Moeen Ahmed, amid concerns an angry and grieving military could try to take justice into its own hands.

"We do believe that the Bangladesh army is a professional force and we expect that they will obey the chain of command," said Moriarty.

During the 33-hour mutiny, some of its leaders proclaimed they were rebelling because of mistreatment by the army and poor pay. But Prime Minister Hasina and others contend the uprising was premeditated and a conspiracy. It is the first crisis of her government, in power for just two months in a country which has seen a series of military takeovers and coup attempts since winning independence from Pakistan in 1971.

The tens of thousands of troops of the Bangladesh Rifles are mainly tasked with guarding the country's borders, but also are called on to assist the military and police during national emergencies.  


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