July 29, 2009 / 1:25 PM / 10 years ago

Bangladesh orders troops out of hill region

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh has ordered troops to pull out from the southeastern hill region 12 years after signing a peace deal with tribal insurgents, officials said on Wednesday.

Army troops remained in the 14,000-sq-km Chittagong Hill Tracts despite the peace deal which took effect in 1997 following nearly 25 years of insurgency by the Shanti Bahini guerrilla group.

“The troop withdrawal will start immediately and all the 35 camps under three infantry brigades will be completely wound up

by end-September,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Over 8,500 troops and rebels were killed and some 70,000 tribal people sought refuge in India during the insurgency, an officer told Reuters.

The peace deal was signed during the rule of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina but the full implementation of the deal was slowed down until she returned to power after an election win in December.

Most militants surrendered following the deal, but some retreated into the jungle which meant the army troops stayed put.

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