- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2009

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Mutinous Bangladeshi border guards who seized control of their headquarters completed their surrender Thursday after tanks were sent into the capital as a show of force, the government said.

The guards, who are angry over their pay, had agreed overnight to surrender after the government promised them an amnesty and agreed to look into their demands for better conditions.

But the process stalled and the revolt looked to be spreading to other areas Thursday until the prime minister issued a harsh warning to the rebels, backed up by tanks and armored vehicles rolling through the streets of the capital.

Apparently intimidated by the move, the guards hoisted a white flag on Thursday afternoon and resumed laying down arms.

“All the mutinous border guards have surrendered their weapons,” government negotiator Mahbub Ara Gini told reporters, adding that all military officials with their families trapped inside the headquarters had been evacuated.

But the two-day revolt, which has killed at least 10 people, has appeared to end before, only to resume again.

Border guards first mutinied Wednesday at the group’s headquarters in Dhaka, turning their weapons on senior officers, seizing a nearby shopping center and trapping students in a school on their compound.

Then on Thursday, despite an agreement to surrender, mutineers fired shots at the commanding officer’s residence at a border guard post in the southern town of Tekhnaf early Thursday, sending him fleeing, said police official Jalal Ahmed Chowdhury. Witnesses said violence also erupted at border guard posts in Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong and Naikhongchari in the south, Sylhet in the northeast, Rajshahi and Naogaon in the northwest.

However, no further incidents of violence were reported throughout the day.

On Thursday night, an Associated Press reporter saw tanks and armored vehicles take up positions in a residential neighborhood near the compound seized by the guards Wednesday. Local media reported seeing at several more tanks heading toward the city.

The move came shortly after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appealed to the mutineers to surrender in a televised speech to the nation.

“We don’t want to use force to break the standoff,” Hasina said. “But don’t play with our patience. We will not hesitate to do whatever is needed to end the violence if peaceful means fails.”

At least 10 people have been confirmed dead in Dhaka, but officials fear up to 50 people may have been killed there. On Thursday morning, the bodies of seven border guards — two of them of officers — were found outside the violence-wracked headquarters of Bangladesh Rifles, doctors at a local hospital said.

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