In an extraordinary incident, four individuals, including a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinee, were killed and at least 16 others injured after members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) opened fire during what the paramilitary force claimed to be a clash with cattle smugglers. The incident took place at Bahrampur village in Haripur upazila of Thakurgaon district on February 12, reported our sister newsagency UNB.

Police Super Mohammad Moniruzzaman identified the deceased as Nawab, 30, son of Nazrul Islam, Sadeque, 40, son of Zahir Uddin of Ruhia village, Joynul, 16, Nurul Islam of Bahrampur village, and Sohel, 35, son of Abdul Goni of Shinghari village. Locals said BGB men used to check whether cattle smuggled from India are being taken to Jadurani haat (a makeshift market) in adjoining Ranishankail upazila which sits once a week on Tuesdays.

As part of their regular practice, a team of BGB members from Betna border outpost stopped some cattle traders at Bahrampur around 11:30am while they were going to Jaduranirhaat and claimed that some of the cattle were Indian ones. Witnesses said there was an altercation between the two parties that ultimately turned into a full-scale clash. The BGB members then opened fire on the feuding people - a shocking resort for which surely they must be held accountable.

The paramilitary force members fired around 100 shots in the span of half an hour, killing Nawab and Sadeque on the spot, according to villagers. The SP said many people were injured in the BGB firing. "They're being treated at different hospitals," he said adding, "Two of them --Mithun and Babu-- are in critical condition."

Commanding officer of BGB Thakurgaon 50 Battalion Lt Col Tuhin Mohammad Masud said two people were killed in the BGB firing. "The BGB men were forced to open fire in self-defence," he said, adding that he heard two more people died on the way to hospital. He also claimed that cattle smugglers, armed with sharp weapons, attacked the BGB troopers at Bahrampur while they were returning after seizing several smuggled cows, forcing them to open fire in self-defence. Two BGB members were also injured in the clash, Tuhin added. Resident medical officer at Haripur Upazila Health Complex Dr Abdus Samad said they removed bullets from the bodies of 14 people and provided them with first aid at their hospital. Later, they were referred to Abdur Rahim Medical College Hospital in Dinajpur, he said.

Bangladesh was set to sign a defence deal with Saudi Arabia to boost military relations between the two countries on February 14. Under the Bangladesh-Saudi Arabia deal, 1,800 Bangladeshi troops will be deployed in Saudi Arabia. General Aziz Ahmed, Bangladesh's Chief of Army Staff, made the declaration after meeting Saudi Arabia's chief of joint forces Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili. "Under the deal, Bangladesh will be defusing mines along the borders of war-torn Yemen", a statement from Bangladesh's newly renovated embassy in Riyadh said.

If the deal is signed, 1,800 Bangladeshi troops will be deployed in Saudi Arabia, which is expected to take bilateral military cooperation to new heights. During General Ahmed's meeting with Al-Ruwaili, the two military officials discussed bilateral issues. Also, Bangladesh considered sending military engineers to Saudi Arabia for military and civilian construction works, according to Indian media. "Bangladesh named four military officials including a brigadier general for joining Saudi's Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition. There is an excellent bilateral relationship between the two countries," General Ahmed was quoted as saying by the Eurasian Times.

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