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Firing intensifies on India-Bangladesh border
M. Chhaya in Kolkata
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August 20, 2005 11:56 IST

Indian and Bangladeshi border guards failed to negotiate their dispute over construction of river embankments along the frontier and resumed heavy firing on Saturday.

Fighting began early Friday after both sides tried to stop each other from carrying out work on building river embankments along the Mahananda river that flows from India into Bangladesh.

The river has been eroding its banks on both sides of the border, threatening Indian and Bangladeshi guard outposts and the wire fence India is building to stop illegal migration and militants.

While Indian officials say they were fortifying the river banks with sand bags � not considered a construction of permanent nature�well away from 150 yards of the zero line, they allege that Bangladesh is building concrete structures on their side within the no man's land. Bangladesh denies this.

Also read: India, Bangladesh trade fire on border

On Friday morning, hundreds of construction workers and Bangladeshi soldiers began building the concrete embankment, prompting Indian guards to open fire to scare them away. Bangladeshi guards then retaliated.

Late on Friday, efforts were made to hold discussions to contain the situation, but Border Security Force officials couldn't contact Bangladesh Rifles authorities.

"We were expecting things to cool down, but they started firing on us this morning without provocation," a senior BSF officer said on Saturday. 

"There has been firing from both sides since morning. They (Bangladesh) were carrying out construction work near the border breaking international rules," Border Security Force (BSF) DIG OP Gaur said.

Also read: India, Bangladesh exchange fire

There was no official report of any injury on either side, but Indian officials said their guards had seen two bodies lying on the Bangladesh side.

The BSF officer said despite the firing by BDR personnel, India was making efforts to hold a flag meeting.

"It (the meeting) can happen later today or tomorrow. But we will show restraint."

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