28 Feb 2009

Grisly toll from Bangladesh mutiny rises: second mass grave found

9:52 pm on 28 February 2009

Ten more bodies have been recovered from a second mass grave in a military compound in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.

It brought the death toll from a deadly mutiny to 76, a number certain to rise.

"We have so far removed 10 dead bodies," said fire service operations chief Sheikh Mohammad Shahjalal, "but there are still many more that we need to dig out. They are badly decomposed and many are mutilated.

"We have to exercise extreme caution when removing these bodies because so many are disfigured. It's not just a matter of shovelling them out."

The first mass grave uncovered on Friday contained 38 bodies, and another 28 bodies have been recovered in other parts of the compound, including drains and sewers.

Most of the dead are senior military personnel, including the chief of the border security force, Major-General Shakil Ahmed.

Rebels sought better pay and conditions

The grisly discoveries follow a 33-hour revolt by border security troops that began early Wednesday. The rebels, members of the Bangladesh Rifles, mutinied for better pay and conditions, but surrendered and returned to barracks after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned that those responsible for the deaths and injuries would face serious consequences.

Despite her promise a day earlier of an amnesty for troops who surrendered, those who killed are unlikely to get off lightly.

"These senior military personnel have been killed in a planned and calculated manner," cabinet minister Jahangir Kabir Nanak told reporters. "It's a grisly slaughter. We will punish these criminals."

At least 200 suspected mutineers have been arrested.

A joint funeral for all those killed was to be held once all bodies had been recovered; three days of national mourning were declared from Friday.