Royal Bengal Tiger Sundarbans
Bangladesh: Police kill 6 tiger poachers in shootoutReuters file photo

The Bangladeshi police have killed six suspected poachers during a shootout in the Sundarbans.

The alleged gunfight took place in Khulna's Koyra Upazila area on Sunday, 9 August, said the law enforcement officials.

"We recovered six bodies from the site after the gunfight," senior police official Mohammad Habibur Rahman said.

A cache of firearms and skins of three adult tigers have also been seized at the site. The suspects have been identified as Siddiq Sana Ansar Ali Sana, Rafiqul Islam, Mamun Gazi, Bappi Dhali, and Majid Gazi. All of them are thought to be members of the notorious Ilias Bahini poaching gang, which is active at the Unesco World Heritage site of the Sundarbans mangrove forest.

Conflicting reports suggest the poachers were initially arrested by the police and later shot dead. It is reported that some police officers who were injured have been admitted to the hospital.

"The gunfight went on for about 15 to 20 minutes. We recovered three tiger skins, and five guns and ammunition. From the look and smell of the skins, it seemed that the tigers were killed not more than a week ago," local security official Harendra Nath Sarkar told the BBC.

In 2004, it was estimated that about 440 tigers were sheltered by the 10,000sq km forest which straddles Bangladesh and India, though the numbers were contested. However, a recent survey has recorded a sharp decline in the population of the Royal Bengal tigers.