Feb 22, 2010 (DVB)–Fourteen people, including eight policemen, have been shot dead by unknown gunmen in the Golden Triangle region between Burma and Laos.
The attack on Saturday came from the Laotian side of the Mekong river, according to a local villager, and may have been the work of drug gangs operating in the region, although this has not been confirmed.
Two other policemen were seriously injured in the incident, in which they came under fire during a patrol of the river between Pa-Sa and Panfu villages in Burma’s eastern Shan state.
Two civilians, two boatmen and two militiamen who were accompanying them were also killed, the villager said.
A health officer from nearby Tachileik town confirmed the figure and added that the remains of six police had been displayed at a local pagoda. A police official said that the wounded men are to be sent to Rangoon for treatment. Ten corpses were salvaged from Mekong river on the day of the incident and the body of police chief Khin Maung Yin was recovered the following day. The corpses of the three remaining policemen are still missing.
The Golden Triangle, where Burma, Thailand and Laos meet, was once the world’s main heroin producing region, traffickers moved freely in the area, and opium was for many the principal cash crop.
Despite Afghanistan now producing around 80 percent of the world’s opium, Shan ranks second in production, and small-scale armed groups, as well as larger Burmese ethnic armies, control much of the market there.
A similar attack occurred in 2008 and four policemen, including a sergeant, were killed. Local sources said that only the corpse of the sergeant was salvaged.
Reporting by Nay Htoo