Bangladesh sends 250 soldiers to destroy poppy plants

About 250 soldiers in full battle gear have parachuted from air force helicopters into the hilly terrain over the last two days.

Bangladesh sends 250 soldiers to destroy poppy plants
Bangladesh has sent paratroopers to destroy poppy plants on hundreds of hectares in remote areas of the country's southeastern hill region, security officials said on Wednesday.

About 250 soldiers in full battle gear have parachuted from air force helicopters into the hilly terrain over the last two days and have started demolishing poppy plants, a senior army officer told Reuters.

"The operation will be conducted at least for a fortnight," said the officer, who could not be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Bangladesh generally launches such drives in the late winter to destroy poppy plants cultivated by organised gangs in remote areas of the 14,000 sq-km (5,500 sq miles) Chittagong Hill Tracts bordering Myanmar and the Indian states of Tripura and Mizoram.

Poppy is the principal ingredient for opium, which can then be refined into heroin.

The region is adjacent to the "Golden Triangle" in Indochina, one of the most extensive opium-producing areas of the world.

A nearly 25-year-long insurgency in the Hill Tracts ended in a 1997 peace deal between the Bangladesh government and Shanti Bahini tribal militants, who had wanted full autonomy for the region.

Reuters
Last Mod: 11 Şubat 2009, 12:00
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