2 Mar 2009

Bangladesh manhunt for rogue border guards

10:15 pm on 2 March 2009

The Bangladesh army has launched a manhunt for border guards who mutinied at their headquarters in Dhaka last week, killing about 140 army officers.

The government issued arrest warrants for "1,000 guardsmen and accomplices", the BBC reports.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she had asked the America's FBI and Britain's Scotland Yard for assistance in the investigation.

On Monday tens of thousands gathered in the capital, Dhaka, for state funerals of officers who were killed. About 20 civilians are also thought to have died.

The mutiny by the Bangladesh Rifles apparently began as a row over pay. The charges include conspiracy to kill officers and civilians, using weapons and explosives, creating panic, looting and trying to hide bodies.

The BBC reports the fugitive border guards can expect little mercy from the army, which has now been ordered to fan out across Bangladesh to apprehend them.

Speaking in parliament on Sunday, Ms Hasina said that nearly 700 soldiers of the Bangladesh Rifles have already been detained.

Those in custody are the men who laid down their guns on Thursday after the prime minister promised to send tanks in to crush their revolt. Many others chose to flee.

The bodies of 70 officers have been discovered so far, many of them mutilated after being shot.

Police have named six men they accuse of carrying out the mutiny. The six were involved in negotiating the mutineers' surrender.

The government had offered the mutineers an amnesty but once the scale of the massacre became apparent, it said those responsible would be punished.

The army has said that those found guilty of murder will be executed.

Hundreds of guards began returning to their posts on Sunday.