Violence erupts in Bangladesh as border guards rebel
The mutinous security forces may surrender in exchange for amnesty.
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Fighting erupted in Bangladesh on Wednesday as aggrieved border security forces mutinied against their commanding officers in the country's capital, Dhaka. The violence, which threatens to destabilize Bangladesh, comes just weeks after the country navigated a difficult return to democracy following two years of Army-backed rule.
At least one person was killed and 16 were wounded during gunfights at the headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles, the border security force, reports The Daily Star, Bangladesh's leading English-language newspaper.
The gunfight broke out at about 7:45 this morning with firing thousands of rounds of gunshot at the BDR Headquarters as "angry and aggrieved" BDR soldiers launched a violent and armed mutiny against their high command.
The Associated Press reports that the border guards also seized a shopping mall . Al Jazeera English adds that the fighting erupted during a meeting between junior officers and their commander, and may involve grievances over pay.
"The fighting broke out, apparently, this morning during a meeting between junior and senior officers. There is panic on the streets right now. No-one is clear about what's happening," [an Al Jazeera reporter] said.
Private TV stations Bangla Vision and ETV, reporting live from the scene, said the guards came out of their barracks and seized a conference hall where officers were meeting.
The report said troops of the Bangladesh Rifles chanted slogans for more pay and better facilities."
The Associated Press reports that the guards were promised amnesty in a meeting with the prime minister and may surrender.
The violence, which shook Bangladesh and paralyzed the capital, comes at a fragile time for Bangladesh, one of the world's largest Muslim nations. The country is just making a return to civilian democratic rule, following a military-backed coup in January 2007, as The Christian Science Monitor reported in December.
Bangladesh ended two years of rule by a military-backed caretaker government when it voted in a new government [in late December].
An alliance led by former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League clinched a two-thirds majority in Parliament, trouncing her archrival Khaelda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
The elections, postponed since January 2007 after months of political turbulence, had a 70 percent turnout rate. They are being hailed by civil rights groups as Bangladesh's return to democracy.