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Four miners shot dead at jade mine

Freelance miners scavenge for jade scraps at a mine in northern Burma. (DVB)

Four miners were shot dead and seven seriously wounded this morning when security forces opened fire on freelance miners who had been barred from scavenging for jade scraps at a site in Khamti Township, Sagaing Division.

The four dead men are said to be locals from nearby Namsibon village. The wounded miners were taken to Khamti hospital for treatment.

The incident took place at 8am on Wednesday at a jade mine operated by the military-owned Union of Myanma Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEHL). The armed police officers at the site, which is close to the main jade-mining town of Hpakant, were employed as security guards by the firm.

Speaking to DVB by telephone, Khamti MP Maung Tay said, “I got a call this morning telling me that four miners had been killed and seven injured when security guards opened fire on them. Yesterday, an announcement was made barring freelance miners from entering the site, but they insisted on going there. I heard that, this morning, the security guards did not attempt to stop the miners from walking in, but then fired on them as soon as they had done so.”

The incident comes on the same day as the abrupt cancellation of a controversial documentary film in Rangoon that casts allegations on the role of the military in Burma’s multi-billion-dollar jade-mining industry.

Correction: The original version of this story erroneously stated that the security forces on site were soldiers, employed as security guards by UMEHL. DVB regrets the error.