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70 arrested after fire at Myaing oil company

Jan 22, 2009 (DVB), Seventy people have so far been arrested in connection with a fire at the Kaung Zaw Hein oil company in Magwe’s Myaing township which broke out after a protest by local oil workers.

The fire broke out on 8 January, after security forces cracked down on about 200 workers and business owners protesting against the takeover of oilfields in Vaheen village by the Kaung Zaw Hein company, who prohibited them from working in the oilfields.

Four villagers were arrested the next day for arson, but locals claimed the fire had started when the oil drums burst into flames on being hit by the security forces' bullets.

According to locals, most of the 70 who have now been arrested were business owners who had previously worked in the oilfields before the company took over.

Local said some were arrested while travelling around the area and were being detained in police station cells in Myaing and Pakokku.

"Other business owners who worked in the fields are now on the run as they fear they might get arrested too," one local resident said.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw