Myanmar's army recovers captured Chinese boats

AP News
Posted: Apr 09, 2011 3:40 AM
Myanmar's army recovers captured Chinese boats

Myanmar army troops have recovered three Chinese boats and their crews who had been seized in a rare case of river piracy, Myanmar's state media reported Saturday.

The accounts of the incident on the Mekong River in the Golden Triangle region, where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet, did not identify the armed pirates or give a reason for their actions.

The state-owned Myanma Ahlin daily reported that five motorboats carrying armed men stopped the three privately owned vessels on April 2 as they were collecting decorative stones in the Mekong River near Tachileik township. Initially, the captains of two of the boats were taken away, but then the boats were seized and the third captain was abducted, with the 34 crew members kept hostage aboard the captured vessels.

The newspaper said a Myanmar army operation on Monday caused the attackers to flee and abandon the vessels, leaving the captured captains behind on shore. It said the boats went safely on their way Friday.

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The affair was a reminder of the area's murky reputation _ it is notorious for the production and trafficking of heroin and other illicit drugs, and decades-old armed ethnic rebel groups fighting the Myanmar government hold sway over swaths of border territory.

Piracy is not uncommon in the seas around Southeast Asia, but reports of river pirates are rare.