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Hasina fears more attacks
DHAKA, Mar 4 (AFP):
Published on 5 Mar. 2009 1:08 AM IST
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Bangladesh is at risk of more attacks "to foil the country's democracy" after a savage mutiny in which at least 74 people were killed, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in comments published on Wednesday. The premier said her own safety was also at risk, describing as "condemnable" last week's mutiny by paramilitary troops of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) border guards who killed more than 50 senior army personnel. She said the 33-hour standoff was part of a wider plot to destabilise Bangladesh. "Conspiracies against Bangladesh are not over yet. There is still a plot to foil the country's democracy, independence and sovereignty," she said at a seminar in comments carried by the private online newspaper Last week's bloodshed has presented Hasina with a major crisis little more than two months after she won power in elections that ended two years of rule by an army-backed emergency government. "Many did not like the incident to end so soon; the game is still on and the conspirators are not taking a break," Hasina said. The troops, whose duties include guarding Bangladesh's long border with India, have said the incident stemmed from a dispute over pay and conditions. Hasina has launched an investigation into the attacks but on Tuesday the army said it was conducting its own probe independent of the elected government, which analysts said exposed tensions between the two. Security forces arrested five BDR guards late Tuesday, including the man accused of being the revolt's ringleader. "Intelligence and RAB officers have arrested Touhidul Alam following a raid in the capital. He is the prime accused in the events at the Bangladesh Rifles headquarters," said M. Kamruzzaman, spokesman for the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) force. Alam led a small group of the mutineers who held negotiations with Hasina to bring an end to the revolt. The soldiers fled their compound on Thursday, apparently dressed as civilians, leaving behind gruesome scenes with scores of bodies, many mutilated by bayonets, dumped in mass graves or thrown down drains. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said it has received a request from Bangladesh to help with the investigation. Hasina has also asked the United Nations and British police to help. Bangladesh's short history has been steeped in political bloodshed, coups and counter-coups since a brutal 1971 war brought independence from Pakistan. Hasina's own family was targeted in a 1975 coup, with her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh's first head of state, killed along with his wife and three sons. Hasina and her sister were out of the country at the time. Hasina, who was also prime minister from 1996 to 2001, survived an attempt on her life at a political rally in 2004.

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