Bangladesh: Troops Told To Lay Down Guns As Tanks Roll Towards Capital

Source : http://www.guardian.co.uk

Prime minister appeals for calm as she grapples with grave political challenge one month after being sworn into office.

Army tanks are rolling toward the Bangladeshi capital, Dakha, according to local media reports, after the prime minister ordered mutinous troops to lay down their guns immediately.

The crisis began yesterday when border guards rose up in violent protests over pay and alleged discrimination, leaving up to 50 people dead.

In a nationwide broadcast, the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, appealed for calm but also warned of tough actions as she grappled with a grave political challenge just one month after being sworn into office.

"Lay down your guns immediately and go back to barracks. Do not force me to take tough actions or push my patience beyond tolerable limits," Hasina said.

Shootings were reported at several guard posts hours after officials announced that the mutiny of guards in Dhaka had ended.

Guards fired shots at the commanding officer's residence at a border post in the southern town of Tekhnaf, forcing him to flee. Violence was also reported in Chittagong and Naikhongchari in the south, Sylhet in the north-east, and Rajshahi and Naogaon in the north-west. In Chittagong, dozens of mutineers blocked a road and forced traffic to a halt, according to a government official. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the new round of violence.

The mutiny began yesterday at the border guards agency headquarters in Dhaka, but the guards agreed to surrender after the government said it would grant them amnesty and discuss their grievances.

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