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Confirmed death toll in Bangladesh Rifles mutiny reaches 55


NEW DELHI, February 27 (RIA Novosti) - The number of Bangladeshi border guard officers confirmed dead following the recent mutiny in the capital of Dhaka has climbed to 55, national media reported on Friday.

The Bangladesh Rifles, a paramilitary force responsible for guarding the country's borders, mutinied at their headquarters in Dhaka on Wednesday in protest over pay and conditions. The mutiny follows years of tension between senior officers brought in from the regular army and the rest of the force.

Facing an ultimatum from Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who met the ringleaders on Wednesday evening, some mutineers lay down their weapons, but gunfire broke out again on Thursday morning at a barracks in the Pilkhana area of Dhaka. The mutiny then began to spread throughout the country, and reports of gunfire were heard near the barracks of the Bangladesh Rifles in the regions of Chittagong, Rajshahi, Feni, Teknaf, Satkania, Sylhet, Dinajpur and Naogaon.

On Thursday evening the mutiny was brought under control and the bodies of 17 officers, including Bangladesh Rifles Brigadier General Abdul Bari, were found in ditches around the headquarters building.

The search for bodies continued on Friday, with another 34 bodies found in a pit near the compound's hospital and four more bodies discovered in a drainage ditch, bringing the total to 55.

Dozens of officers are still unaccounted for, however, including the Bangladesh Rifles commander, General Major Shakil Ahmed. Just over 30 officers were able to flee during the mutiny and, according to them, the total number of dead could reach 100.

One officer said that as soon as the mutiny began, he dove into a ditch where he remained up to his neck in water until the evening. At night he climbed out of the ditch and onto a roof of one of the buildings where he remained until the mutiny ended.

There are no reports of casualties in other cities in Bangladesh.

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