New York Times

October 17 1971


East Pakistan: The Grim Fight for 'Bangla Desh'

By Sydney H. Schanberg

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Some of the new recruits are being trained as regular troops and others as guerrillas. The latter adopt village dress and mix with the local population. There are many more volunteers, how ever, than the Mukti Bahini can absorb, primarily be cause of a shortage of weapons, and a large number of boys simply mark time after getting their rudimentary basic training—which is hardly more then physical exercises and elementary driving.

The Mukti Bahinis weapons are a motley lot. There are some Sten guns light machine guns and other automatic Weapons, and many ancient single‐shot rifles: The heaviest Weapons in the arsenal are light and medium mortars—and not too many of, them. These arms are of varying makes and age, some captured from the Pakistani troops and some— though far from enough, the Bengalis complain — provided by the Indians.

Yet with all these problems, the Mukti Bahini has effectively harassed the Pakistani Army, pinned it down in some areas and stretched its lines thin all over East Pakistan. Reliable reports indicate that Pakistani casualties are increasing. The guerrillas also continue to assassinate members of the local ‘peace committees,” made up of non‐Bengalis and other collaborators assigned to carry out administration, of areas under army occupation. No figures are available on guerrilla casualties, but they are believed to be low. However, with every guerrilla raid, the army burns ham lets and kills villagers in reprisal.


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