The leader of an abortive rebellion that took the life of country's president Saturday was killed by angry soldiers following his arrest, the official Radio Bangladesh reported today.
The radio said Maj. Gen. Manzur Ahmed, who led a short-lived takeover of the southern port city of Chittagong, was found hiding near the village of Fatikchari about 60 miles north of Chittagong by Army intelligence agents. He was then arrested by local police yesterday, the radio said, and was being brought to Chittagong when angry enlisted men attacked and killed him.
No other details were immediately available. The report was not immediately confirmed by the government, but Bangladesh government officials said there was no reason to doubt it.
News of Manzur's death came as the country appeared to be returning to normal and vast throngs of Bangladeshis were gathering here for the funeral of slain president Ziaur Rahman. Throughout the night hundreds of thousands of people filed past his flower-bedecked casket at the parliament building to mourn him.
The death of Zia, who had been a unifying political force in this struggling young nation, nevertheless, was expected to intensify its already serious economic and political problems.
According to government sources, the rebellion collapsed early yesterday with the defections of troops under Manzur in the southern port city of Chittagong. The sources said the rebels offered to negotiate, but the government refused. The two-day-old rebellion then melted away, the sources said.
After loyalist troops were completely in control of Chittagong, Zia's body was recovered and flown to the capital. There his casket was put on public view at the parliament building, but the body reportedly was too badly damaged to be shown.
Acting President Abdus Sattar said earlier in the day in a radio broadcast that the assassins would be tried and punished according to the country's law, but he did not mention any arrests.
Early today the motive for the short-lived rebellion remained unclear. But Bangladesh officials speculated that Manzur was driven by a personal grudge against the president who recently had transferred him.
According to travelers returning from Chittagong, the city has returned to normal and the radio station that had been seized by the rebels was being guarded by forces loyal to the government.
Thousands of mourners reportedly were keeping a vigil outside the government guest house in Chittagong where Zia had been staying when the rebels attacked early Saturday, killing him and several aides.
Government troops backed by artillery could be seen 30 miles north of Chittagong, indicating that the government had been prepared to attack the rebel stronghold if necessary, the travelers said.
Although the situation still remained unclear, it appeared that reports of heavy fighting carried by news media in neighboring India had been greatly exaggerated. Soldiers in Chittagong told one visiting journalist yesterday that the only fighting had been a 20-minute shoot-out at the guest house where Zia was killed.
According to one report, the fighting took the lives of eight persons including a rebel officer.
Underscoring Manzur's apparent lack of support, hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis had flocked to the parliament by early today to view Zia's coffin. Well after midnight the mourners were still filing past, some of them reaching out to touch the plain wooden casket or throw flowers and wreaths on top of it.The ceremony was accompanied by mournful chants from Islamic clergyman and the burning of incense around the coffin on the steps of the parliament building.
The government announced plans to hold Zia's funeral this afternoon after displaying the coffin through the night.
Yesterday, Radio Bangladesh had announced a $30,000 reward for the capture of Manzur dead or alive.
The Associated Press reported the following:
Manzur, the commander of the Bangladesh Army's 24th Division in Chittagong, was unable to gain the support of a single other military unit during the 48-hour uprising, according to diplomatic sources in New Delhi, India.
Frustration over the transfer order and personal jealousy of the president, a long-time friend, rather than any deep ideological convictions apparently prompted Manzur to launch the coup attempt, said the diplomatic sources who asked not to be identified.
Manzur's political leanings were unclear. He has been portrayed at various times as leftist and pro-Chinese, devout Moslem, pro-Soviet, anti-Soviet and pro-American. He was born in Noakhali, East Bengal, in what was then British India, in 1940 or 1941.
During the takeover, the only programs announced by rebel army broadcasts were the abrogation of a friendship treaty with India and plans to retake a small island in the Ganges River that India had occupied in a long-standing territorial dispute.
Zia came to power in April 1977 when Abusadat Mohammed Sayem resigned in his favor. Zia was confirmed by a national referendum a month later.
He was the seventh leader of this predominately Moslem nation since it gained independence from Pakistan after a two-week war in December 1971.
In the last four years, he crushed two rebellions within the armed forces.
Sources with the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party said it was decided at an emergency meeting that elections would be held within six months and in the interim, the policies of Zia would be continued.
Prime Minister Shah Azizur Rahman announced that the party's secretary general, Badruddouza Chowdhury, had escaped death in the coup, contrary to earlier reports.
Bangladesh, on the eastern side of the Indian subcontinent, is one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world, with a population of 90 million in an area of 55,000 square miles, slightly smaller than Wisconsin.
It was part of Bengal Province in British India, becoming East Pakistan when India was partitioned in 1947 because more than 80 percent of the population were Moslems. With the help of the Indian Army, it won its independence from Pakistan in 1971.
Zia had been active in Islamic world politics. He was chairman of the Islamic Summit Conference and involved in its peace mission aimed at ending the war between Iran and Iraq.