Dhaka: As many as 57 Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) soldiers, suspected to be involved in the February’s bloody mutiny here, are still at large with lethal firearms like machine guns, RPGs and mortar shells and now pose a major security threat to Bangladesh, officials said.
The number of Bangladesh Rifles’ personnel still missing, has come out in an official list prepared and made public by the government here on the rebellion in which 75 people, including 57 army officers, were killed.
In a statement issued on Wednesday night, BDR said 209 grenades, one rocket propelled grenade and five 60 milimetre mortar shells along with 119 firearms including rifles and machine guns and over 45,000 bullets were found to be missing as the officials carried out an inventory of the BDR arsenals at the Pilkhana.
“Some of the ammunition and explosives were used inside Pilkhana during the mutiny, which means the rest were taken away by the mutineers,” said a BDR official requesting anonymity.
Security analysts feared the rebel soldiers who fled the BDR headquarters after the February’s savage mutiny along with the weapons posed a major security threat with their suspected links to militant groups.
The Daily Star newspaper quoted BDR sources as saying that said there was still doubt about the accuracy of this tally of missing arms and ammunition since the mutineers destroyed almost all logs and relevant documents of the BDR arsenal.
BDR also updated the list of deserters or fugitive soldiers saying only 57 were now on the run with the rest having joined different BDR units. Some were arrested in a massive manhunt in an operation called “Operation Rebel Hunt” carried out by security forces including army troops.
The Home Ministry earlier this month declared Taka 50,000 bounty on each fugitive BDR soldier as a three separate investigations were underway.
One investigation is being pursued by Criminal Investigation Department of police, one by a high-powered national committee and another by army headquarters.
CID has so far arrested 1,329 suspected mutineers while 52 BDR soldiers have made confessional statements admitting their involvement in the carnage as interrogations of the suspects is underway.
Commerce minister Faruk Khan who was entrusted with the charge of coordinating the investigations on Wednesday told a foreign radio that the government planned to make public the report of the national committee through Parliament by 11 May.