Myanmar says ethnic rebels kill 7 in ambush

AP News
Posted: Aug 05, 2011 5:19 AM
Myanmar says ethnic rebels kill 7 in ambush

Rebels in northern Myanmar ambushed a car carrying workers from a Chinese-backed hydroelectric project, killing seven people, state media reported Friday.

Ethnic Kachin fighters attacked the vehicle as it traveled from the Tarpein power plant to the town of Moemauk on Tuesday, the government-owned Myanma Ahlin newspaper said.

Rebels could not be reached for comment. But the website of the Kachin News Group, which is associated with Kachin exiles, said earlier this week that Kachin fighters attacked a military truck in the same area on the same day, causing an unknown number of casualties.

Among the passengers inside the vehicle were three technicians who had just come from the Tarpein plant, the newspaper said. Only one of the eight people inside the car, a policeman, survived, it said. The gruesome aftermath of the attack appeared in photos on several front-page newspapers in Myanmar.

Fighting erupted in Kachin state in June for the first time since 1994. The rebels say the army launched an offensive to force out Kachin forces after they refused to abandon a strategic base near the Tarpein plant, a joint venture between Myanmar's Electric Power Ministry and China. The rebels fought back, destroying bridges and power pylons in the area.

The violence has tapered off in recent weeks, but around 20,000 people are still displaced.

The 8,000-strong Kachin militia is one of several minority ethnic rebel armies in Myanmar who say they are fighting for greater autonomy from the country's repressive government.

Environmental activists say Myanmar's environment, often described as Asia's last bio-diversity frontier, is being degraded as China and other neighbors rush to use its natural resources with few governmental safeguards.

The Burma Environmental Working Group, a coalition of 10 organizations in exile, has said large dams are being built in the country with little regard to their environmental or social impacts. Kachin residents believe the dams will flood riverbanks and wipe out their livelihoods, while the electricity from the dams will be largely exported to China.