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Search intensifies for killers of forestry officer

Slain forestry officer Ko Myo Min Kyaing, pictured with his family.

A band of illegal loggers who beat a forestry officer to death in Shwebo are still at large, prompting Sagaing Division’s chief minister to call upon local law enforcement officials to step up efforts to find the culprits.

The body of Myo Min Kyaing is yet to recovered, but he is presumed drowned after he and his team were attacked on the Irrawaddy River about five miles west of the town of Kyaukmyaung on Monday.

Sagaing regional chief minister Myint Naing visited Myo Min Kyaing’s family yesterday to offer condolences, and also visited Shwebo hospital to meet the other forestry officers who had been attacked.

He stressed that the killers must be found immediately.

The six forestry agents were viciously assaulted on Monday when they stopped a group of illegal loggers transporting wood on a barge on the Irrawaddy, according to Moe Kyaw Thu, an MP in the regional parliament.

“As the officers approached the barge, the loggers signalled to their colleagues downstream who pulled up on two motorboats and started beating them up,” said Moe Kyaw Thu.

“Ko Myo Min Kyaing fell in the water and as he attempted to stay afloat, the loggers kept pushing him under with bamboo poles. He didn’t resurface after about three attempts.”

He said two forestry wardens were hospitalised with serious injuries.

According to local residents, illegal logging operations are widespread in Sagaing Division, and attacks on law enforcement and forestry officials are common.

Similar confrontations have also occurred in other parts of Burma. In May, a group of men armed with swords and clubs threatened forestry officials attempting to confiscate logging equipment and illegally logged timber from a camp in Rangoon Division’s Taikkyi Township. No one was harmed in that incident.

In April, the Aung San Suu Kyi government banned logging nationwide.