police evict Chittagong squat - 3 dead, over 50 injured [1-4-98]

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 14 Apr 1998 07:07:48 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/despatches/newsid_44000/44577.stm
     January 4, 1998 - BBC News | Despatches


     Francis Harrison

Officials in the Bangladeshi city of Chittagong say three people were shot
dead and more than 50 injured when police tried to evict them from land in
the military cantonment. Police have arrested nine people, among them some
retired army officers who they say were illegally occupying the land.
According to officials, most of the injured are policemen, and one of them
is said to be in a critical condition. Our Dhaka correspondent, Francis
Harrison, reports.

Officials sent two magistrates and a contingent of policemen to the
military cantonment of Chittagong to reclaim the disputed land. The
authorities say they acquired the privately-owned land for the army by
paying compensation to all the owners and tenants living there, as is the

But some of the owners of the 15-hectare plot of low-cost housing are
saying they didn't get enough compensation money. Local people were given a
week's notice of the police action and appeared to be ready to resist.

At first, an argument broke out between the 220 families living on the land
and the police, then thousands of people came to watch and the situation
grew tense. The authorities say the police were suddenly attacked with
gun-shots and bricks.

A government official who witnessed the incident said three policemen were
captured by the crowd and slashed with knives - at which point the police
started to panic. They were ordered to open fire to control the situation,
in what's a sensitive military area.

Two hundred rounds of ammunition were used. The army has now taken over the
land and put a camp on it to mark its ownership.

Violence is common when desperately poor squatters are evicted from their
slum homes, but in this case, the authorities think the resistance was
orchestrated by the wealthy landlords.


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