updated 3/3/2009 7:44:10 PM ET 2009-03-04T00:44:10

Bangladeshi police said they arrested the suspected ringleader of a deadly insurrection by border guards, an attack the prime minister warned Tuesday was proof of "a conspiracy" against her fledgling government.

The army, meanwhile, continued to search for more than 1,000 border guards who fled after last week's mutiny at their headquarters in Dhaka in which the guards ambushed their commanding officers, leaving at least 69 people dead.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who came to power two months ago, has suggested the border guards had outside help in plotting their uprising, although she has not specified from whom. She told supporters Tuesday night that the attack proved there was "a conspiracy" against her.

"We must remain alert so no one can take away the rights of the people," Hasina said.

Parallel military and civilian investigations were launched Tuesday to determine the details of and reasons for the two-day mutiny that began Feb. 25.

The alleged ringleader, Syed Tauhidul Alam, was arrested in a Dhaka slum Tuesday along with four other border guards, all of whom have been charged with murder and arson, according to A.K. Azad, a spokesman for the elite police unit that carried out the raid.

Police paraded the suspects before reporters Tuesday night but the guards were not allowed to speak. Television footage showed them, dressed in sarongs and dirty shirts, slumped and limping before the cameras. Alam wore a signboard around his neck with his name spelled out.

There was confusion over when and how Alam was arrested. Hasina said Sunday that Alam had surrendered and was in custody. Police insisted he was arrested Tuesday; Hasina's office declined to comment.

One of the suspects, Naik Firoz Ahmed, shouted, "Sir, I have surrendered," before a police official silenced him, according to the United News of Bangladesh agency.

Revolt over pay?
The guards say they revolted over long-standing demands for parity in pay and other perks enjoyed by army officers, who command the border forces.

During the mutiny, Alam emerged as the lead negotiator with Hasina's office, winning an offer of amnesty in exchange for surrendering. Hasina later rescinded the offer for those directly responsible for the killings, which included Alam, police said.

At least 54 army officers and wives were among the 69 people killed, and six army officers were still missing, authorities said.

The insurrection and its aftermath have created a rift between the impoverished country's civilian and military leadership. The powerful military, which has backed 21 coups in the country's 38-year history and only relinquished power to an elected government two months ago, is furious with how Hasina handled the crisis.

The military said Hasina should have ordered an army assault to end the mutiny and curtail the bloodshed instead of negotiating with Alam and offering the guards amnesty.

Military investigators interrogated hundreds of border guards and searched ransacked offices and bloodstained sewers at the guards' compound on Tuesday, according to a panel member who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Military leaders also forced the government to appoint more senior army officials to the parallel civilian probe, another concession won from Hasina's rattled government. The government said senior army officials occupied five of the civilian investigation panel's 11 seats.

Hasina and the military share a long, bitter history. A 1975 military rebellion killed her father, Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, along with most of their family.

Political analysts said the mutiny threatened to damage relations further and shifted the balance of power toward the military.

More on: Bangladesh

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