150 Including 34 Officers Freed
Friday, 27 February 2009

Dhaka, Feb 26 (bdnews24.com) - Nearly 150 people, including women, children and some 34 army officers, were freed from Bangladesh Rifles headquarters before the surrender of mutinying BDR troops on Thursday evening.

As they walked free through the main gate from noon onwards, escaping the besieged and battle-scarred compound, many wept from the trauma that showed most clearly in the eyes of the children.

One small boy named Rakib, an officer's son, was heard asking repeatedly, "Where is my father?"

"I don't have news of my husband; I haven't eaten anything for two days," Kamrunnahar, wife of a major, said in tears as she came out at around 2:30pm.

Major Farzana Kalam, freed along with her mother, said they were held captive in her house. She alleged BDR personnel ransacked her house on at least four occasions since the mutiny began on Wednesday morning.

"They looted money and gold ornaments."

Home minister Sahara Khatun had succeeded in freeing the first of the hostages, in the early hours of Thursday. They were evacuated at around 4.30am in three cars and a bus.

Through the day, some 34 army officers—who had escaped the fate of their fellows at the hands of the rebellious jawans, were released in groups up to 6.30pm—when the mutinying border guards officially surrendered.

The rest of the freed hostages were wives and children of still-missing officers.

The freed families were taken to Mirpur staff quarters in RAB vehicles.

Two Chinese women came out at around 5pm. They refused to speak to reporters, but their travel bag tags showed their names as Xang and Tang Yun Peng and had Feb. 4 stamped as their arrival date in Bangladesh.

Signal Battalion commander Lt Col Taslim and Major Munir of the 26 Rifles Battalion emerged from the headquarters at around 5:45pm.

Major Munir said he had hidden in a drain inside the headquarters shortly after the mutiny started. He stayed in the drain with only his nose floating above the water until late Wednesday night.

Then he hid atop a building and stayed there until Thursday afternoon, when someone called him down, he said.

Major Zaman, another freed officer, said he estimated some 100 casualties of the armed rebellion.

"But I have not seen (BDR chief) Major General Shakil Ahmed since yesterday morning," he told reporters outside the compound.

Source: bdnews24.com

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