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Pegu forestry officers open fire on logging trucks

(FILE PHOTO: WWF)

Law enforcement officials in Pegu Division’s Kyauktaga Township on Thursday opened fire on trucks carrying illegal timber as they tried to run a checkpoint.

Police and forestry officials said they were manning a checkpoint in Myochaung village when they were confronted by around 20 men in four trucks carrying logs, attempting to remove the roadblock gate by hand.

The officers opened fire on one of the trucks, blowing up its tire, as it attempted to run the checkpoint.

An undeclared number of suspected illegal loggers were detained, and at least two of the trucks were seized. The officials are working to catch those who escaped.

This incident follows on from a string of other confrontations between officials and loggers in recent weeks.

Last week, forest ranger Myo Min Kyaing was killed in the Irrawaddy River at Shwebo as he tried to stop loggers on a river barge.

And in May, in Rangoon Division, a band of men wielding swords and other weapons fought off forestry officers as they tried to confiscate illegally felled timber.

A ban on the export of Burmese timber was put into effect on 1 April 2014. Then in April this year, a total ban on logging was enacted by the new Aung San Suu Kyi-led government in a bid to save Burma’s forests.

According to Forestry Ministry data, forest cover had shrunk to 47 percent of land area in 2010, compared to 58 percent in 1990.