B`desh orders troop pullout from insurgency-hit hills

Last Updated: Thursday, July 30, 2009 - 12:04

Dhaka: Bangladesh`s Army on Thursday said it was staging a major pullout from the insurgency-hit southeastern hill tracts, a dozen years after signing a peace deal with the main rebel group.
The armed forces said they would immediately start withdrawing 2,100 troops, including three infantry battalions, and would dismantle 35 security camps in the three hill districts. The pullout would be completed by September.

This would be the "biggest" withdrawal of Army troops from the Chittagong Hill Tracts since the government signed the peace treaty with the main Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity tribal group in 1997, the Army said.

The Army said in a statement it hoped the hill people would consider the withdrawal "a milestone" as "the Bangladesh government is very sincere and committed to fully realising the treaty”.

It did not say how many troops would remain in the hill tracts.

Despite the treaty and withdrawal of thousands of troops, unrest in the area has continued with the tribal group demanding implementation of the treaty which ended a two-decade uprising for autonomy.

In the peace pact, the government promised regional councils and a complete withdrawal of troops. Although councils were set up, the Samity is unhappy that troops have not left the region.

The peace deal was signed when the Awami League government was in power. The party, led by Premier Sheikh Hasina, now is in office again.

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First Published: Thursday, July 30, 2009 - 12:04

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