BDR Mutiny, Gunfire Trigger Coup Speculations

COUP ATTEMPT? Rampaging troops engaged in a bloody gunfight at the Dhakla headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) on Wednesday, at least one person was killed and nine others wounded, says the Reuters website – attributing the information to the staff at a local hospital treating the injured.

Bangladesh has a history of successful and failed military coups. Despite aspersions in the media, the motives behind Wednesday’s incident were not immediately clear.

The unrest amongst BDR ranks comes in wake of a meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and top brass of the par-military force on Tuesday.

In the sidelines of a parade, Premier Hasina is reported to have assured the BDR offcials that her government would do its best to modernize the force.

Nabojit Khosa, police chief in Dhaka confirmed that heavy gunfire erupted at the BDR headquarters and said smoke could be seen emanating fro the building in the Pilkhana area of the capital.

Though the exact reasons for the heavy exchange of fire that left the area cordoned by the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) of the country, a post on the AFP website says official sources have denied speculations of a coup.

Correspondents in Dhaka, quoting unnamed sources, say, the heavy gunfire may have been the result of a BDR mutiny against its regular army officers as the gunfight starte at a meeting between the two on Wednesday.

A hurriedly issued army statement urged the BDR troops to surrender arms and return to their barracks, it added that Premier Hasina would personally speak to the BDR about its demands.

The statement ended in a warning for the troops refusing to give p arms and said they would be prosecuted.

Sources at the Dhaka medical college have confirmed that fur people including a BDR soldier have been admitted to the facility with bullet wounds, say media reports.

Since its independence from Pakistan in 1971, Bangladesh has witnessed several coups and counter coups, the last being in January 2007, elections were finally held in December 2008.

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