The revolt by Bangladesh BDR border guards has resulted in a horrific killing spree of army officers, civilians, elderly couples and even pregnant women. The death toll has now risen to 81 after a further 22 bodies were found in sewers, ponds and shallow graves. The death toll rises hourly as reports come in.
The scale of the massacre emerged amid widespread praise for prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s handling of the crisis. She had faced criticism for offering a general amnesty in talks with the mutiny leaders, but observers said the death toll could have been higher had she not made the concession and later deployed tanks to finally end the rebellion.
More than 200 mutineers fleeing Dhaka in civilian clothes were arrested by troops as they searched buses and trucks for the culprits.
The families of the missing gathered at the Bangladesh Rifles headquarters to wait for news as details of the scale of the carnage emerged from inside.
Atiqul Islam, a Dhaka University student who had learned that one of his relatives was among the dead, said: “Bodies have been stuffed into manholes, thrown into ponds and tanks, while those alive were hiding even in dirty sewer drains.” One survivor, Lt Colonel Syed Kamruzzaman, told reporters he had witnessed the murder of his regiment’s commanding officer, Major General Shakil Ahmed, who was shot dead. He said the mutiny had been pre-planned and timed for the arrival of BDR officers from all over the country for a regimental meeting. “It was cold-blooded murder. They hurled abuse at us and gunned down whoever they wanted. I was shot at seven times and was lucky to get out alive,” he said.
The BBC reports on the dwindling media sympathy and the growing anger as the appalling details of the manner in which the victims were killed and as more mutilated bodies in mass graves are found. Needless to say, the country is in shock as the full extent of the carnage begins to emerge.
From Al Jazeera:
“The scene is horrific,” Nicolas Haque, reporting for Al Jazeera from Dhaka, said.
“As you approach the area where the mass grave has been found there is the terrible smell of death, flies everywhere. Army officers, digging up the bodies, are in tears to see their own officers dead and mutilated.”
About 300 BDR troops are being held by the authorities following the mutiny, but Haque reported that thousands more had fled the scene of the killings.
“As you walk through the compound you can see disregarded uniforms left, right and centre … we presume that many [of the BDR troops] have fled the scene in some haste. You can see their guns are still there, their clothes are still there,” he said.
“There were more than 9,000 BDR troops that were here and the vast majority of them are nowhere to be found. There’s a manhunt organised by the army to try and find these people.”
A candle-light vigil to mourn the dead and to show unity with their families, will be held at Altab Ali Park in Aldgate East in London, on Sunday March 1.
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Filed in: Bangladesh