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Paramilitary soldiers' mutiny may pose threat to Bangladesh's national security: experts 2009-03-01

  By Naim-Ul-Karim, Wang Xuemei

  DHAKA, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Wednesday's bloody mutiny by paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) soldiers might pose a threat to the national security of the impoverished South Asian country, experts and analysts said on Saturday.

  Terming the so-called mutiny as a conspiracy against the country, they also feared that the revolt, which caused so far 81 people dead, can also contribute to fueling extremism in the country.

  Major General (retd) ANM Muniruzzaman, President of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS), a Dhaka-based think tank on security, told Xinhua on Saturday, "This mutiny has created a major national security threat and national security crisis for Bangladesh."

  Thousands of border guards staged a revolt at the BDR headquarters in Dhaka on Wednesday morning against their army officers over demands including higher salary and better facilities.

  Following rounds of negotiations with the government, the rebellious soldiers surrendered their arms on Thursday evening ending the more than 30 hours long crisis.

  "A large number of BDR soldiers have fled with arms and ammunition from their headquarters while many left their work stations keeping the country's boarder areas almost unprotected," Muniruzzaman said.

  These arms and ammunition can go to the extremist groups who are recently trying to be reorganized again, he said.

  Brigadier General (retd) Shahedul Anam Khan, editor, defense and strategic affairs of Bangladesh's leading newspaper The Daily Star, said, "Definitely, there is a risk of security crisis as the commanding structure of the boarder guards have been demolished due to the incident."

  At least 62 army officers including the BDR chief were killed by the mutinous BDR soldiers who complained that they were ignored and repressed by their army officers for a long time. All the senior officers of the BDR are from the army.

  "I am convinced that there is a deep rooted conspiracy and this incident is the manifestation of this conspiracy," Khan said.

  He said the government should restore confidence in the mind of the BDR soldiers so that they feel safe and return to their work stations.

  However, the new chief of the BDR Brigadier General Mainul Islam told reporters on assumption of his assignment on Saturday, the country's boarder areas are well protected. "We have intense vigilance on our bordering areas," he said.

  "There might have a risk of national security in the country but it's not serious as the issue of the so-called revolt was handled very tactfully," Imtiaz Ahmed, professor at the Department of International Relations in Dhaka University, said.

  "Since there is a commitment from all walks of life to work together, I think we could well manage to escape any untoward situation," he said.

  Meanwhile, Executive Director of the local think tank Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Mustafizur Rahman also said there is a possibility of impact on economy as the government's entire attention has now been shifted to the issues relating to the country's security.

  Bangladesh's different social and political organizations have also expressed their grave concern over security issues despite a peaceful end to the revolt with condemnation of the bloody mutiny, according to local reports.

  Major Hamdur Rahman, Deputy Director of the Rapid Action Battalion, told Xinhua on Saturday, nearly 230 rebellious BDR soldiers were detained across the country as they fled from their headquarters.

  Sources said it is assumed that there were 10,000 to 12,000 soldiers inside the BDR headquarters at the time of mutiny. Many of them have reportedly escaped after committing the revolt.

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