Bangladesh Mourns Victims of Massacre

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By Iftekhar Alam

Bangladesh paid its respects to the 67 who died in the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) mutiny today, with thousands attending the state funeral.

The coffins, draped in national and army flags, were carried in a formal parade with the guard of honor and air force jets flew overhead in salute to the brave soldiers in the National Parade Ground in the morning. The bereaved families, President Zillur Rahman, cabinet members, army, navy and air chiefs, political leaders, freedom fighters and members of civil society joined in janaza prayers.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Sunday that the mutiny was a "completely pre-planned massacre".

The government issued arrest warrants for "1,000 guardsmen and accomplices." The charges include conspiracy to kill officers and civilians, using weapons and explosives, creating panic, looting and trying to hide bodies.

Police recovered a sub-machine gun, two grenades, a walkie-talkie and 150 rounds of ammunition from BDR headquarters. Police say the arms were "dumped" by the BDR mutineers.

Foreign minister Dipu Moni informed the media that Bangladesh required forensic expertise from the US and UK to trace and identify the bodies of army officers. The minister said the government also asked the two countries for assistance and cooperation from the FBI and Scotland Yard to investigate.

Retired civil servant Anisuzzaman Khan replaces Home Minister Sahara Khatun as head of BDR mutiny probe body. The additional home secretary will act as member secretary. The changes came after calls that the home minister, as head of the government team in talks with the mutineers, should be removed from the investigation process.

About 180 officers were present at the BDR annual meeting when the mutiny broke out; only 33 are known to have survived.

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