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Six suspected tiger poachers killed during raid in Bangladesh

Six suspected tiger poachers killed during raid in Bangladesh
In this 2008 photograph, a rescued Bental tiger swims in the river Sundarikati after release by the forest workers at Sunderbans, in Bangladesh. (Deshakalyan Chowdhury / AFP/Getty Images)

A gunfight broke out during a raid on a gang of suspected Bengal tiger poachers Sunday, and police said they killed six men believed to be trafficking in illegal skins.

Police in the southwestern Bangladeshi city of Koyra Upazila said the suspected poachers were killed in the nearby Sunderbans nature area, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to a significant population of the endangered animals.

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Habibur Rahman, police superintendent for the surrounding Khulna district, said police had arrested seven men and recovered three Bengal tiger skins during a raid earlier Sunday on a hideout in the Sundarbans area.

He said authorities were returning to the area with the men to recover more skins when associates of the suspects opened fire. Six of the seven suspects were killed when they were caught in the line of fire, according to Harendra Nath Sarker, officer-in-charge of the Koyra police.

Five police officers were reported wounded.

A recent government survey found that there are about 106 tigers left in the Bangladeshi part of the Sundarbans, which stretch into India. There are fewer than 2,500 Bengal tigers left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

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