DVB Multimedia Group

Hearing set for Ann arson suspects

File photo of oil storage tanks near Kyaukphyu in Arakan State, the starting point of the Shwe natural gas pipeline. (PHOTO: AFP)

Fourteen ethnic workers in Arakan State’s Ann Township will be charged on 10 February for alleged involvement in a fire at a fuel relay station along the Shwe gas pipeline route.

Thwe Thwe Soe, local member of the Rakhine [Arakan] Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), told DVB that 14 of the 23 workers detained after the incident will face charges related to arson. The RNDP is seeking assistance from the Arakan Lawyers Network to represent the charged.

The accused allegedly set fire to a fuel storage container on 26 January following a dispute between Chinese and ethnic workers at the fuel transit station in Singondai village.

Varying accounts circulated as to the cause of the quarrel, prompting a response from the site’s managing Southeast Asia Gas Pipeline (SEAGP) Co, who said in a press conference that reports of racial conflict among workers were completely unfounded, adding that the incident did not threaten the safety or security of the pipeline.

Local police have estimated damages around 170 million kyat (US$170,000).