Reports: Bangladeshi death toll rises amid search for mutineers

Bangladeshi firefighters continued to uncover bodies Friday of Bangladesh Rifles officers from a mass grave.
Army convoys are combing areas around the Bangladeshi border guard headquarters, vowing to punish participants in this week’s bloody mutiny, which killed nearly 100 army officers and civilians, according to The New Nation newspaper.

More than 160 army officers were inside the headquarters of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) when the mutiny broke out on Wednesday morning, local reports said. So far, 88 bodies have been recovered from mass graves in the outskirts of Dhaka, the newspaper reported. At least 22 bodies have also been recovered from the Buriganga River after the rebelling troops dumped them down a sewer during the standoff, authorities said. The 88 found dead were among those 169 officers, the newspaper reported. Another 27 emerged from their captivity in the headquarters of the BDR, a 65,000-strong paramilitary outfit primarily responsible for guarding the country’s borders. About 200 BDR soldiers have been arrested.

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The mutiny began Wednesday when BDR members took dozens of their superiors hostage. It was the second day of BDR Week, when army officers and troop members from various BDR outposts along the border were in the capital for celebrations. The New Nation reported that the mutinous border guards surrendered their weapons on Thursday after the government declared an amnesty. The rebellion was spurred by years of discontent among the ranks of the BDR troops.

Recruits complained their army superiors dismissed their appeals for more pay, subsidized food and opportunities to participate in U.N. peacekeeping operations. Bangladesh and its South Asian neighbors contribute the most troops to U.N. operations and the pay is far greater than the meager salary the jawans — as the BDR troops are called — make.