Bangladhesh army says foiled bid to topple government

Bangladhesh army says foiled bid to topple government

DHAKA - Agence France-Presse
Bangladhesh army says foiled bid to topple government

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, center, Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari, second left, and Indian Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal, right, walk after Hasina received an honorary Doctor of Literature (DLit) degree at Tripura University in Agartala, India, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012. AP photo

The Bangladesh army said Thursday it had foiled a plot by some "religiously fanatic" serving officers to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

"We have unearthed a heinous conspiracy to overthrow the democratic government through the army," army spokesman Brigadier General Masud Razzaq said in a written statement. "The attempt has been thwarted with the whole-hearted efforts of army soldiers," the statement said, adding that the plot had been fomented by Bangladeshi expatriates in touch with "religiously fanatic army officers".

Hasina's government, which came to power in early 2009, made changes in June last year to bolster the secular character of the Bangladesh constitution, although Islam was retained as the state religion.

The move sparked a series of angry protests by Islamic activists.

Bangladesh has had a long history of military coups and counter-coups since gaining independence in 1971.

Razaq said two retired officers, including a retired colonel, has been arrested in connection with the conspiracy and he named a serving officer, Major Syed Ziaul Haq, as a "co-planner".

Muhammad Masud Razzaq,