Unknown assailants blew up the offices of two jade-mining companies in Hpakant township in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state on Sunday, destroying heavy vehicles, trucks and workers’ hostels, a local official said.
The first explosion occurred at Yadanar Moe Myay Mining Company Ltd. at 7:40 p.m. where about 10 men exploded handmade mines, said Win Htein, a local village administrator.
“Then they asked workers to get out of the place and fired at the store garage and workers’ hostel,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
The blast appeared to be a retaliatory act for the operator’s refusal to give in to demands for “taxes” by local extortionists, Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reported, citing locals.
The men then went to Linn Htet Aung Company at about 8 p.m. and exploded handmade mines, Win Htein said.
“This company lost some heavy vehicles, a truck, a car and workers’ hostel as well,” he said.
The explosions Sunday did not appear to have caused any injuries or deaths.
Another explosion rocked the area on May 8, injuring a woman and three men and destroying buildings and heavy vehicles from three companies.
Altogether, there have been more than 30 explosions in Hpakant area since then, one of which injured one woman in the leg.
The blasts occurred soon after new clashes broke out between the Myanmar army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), an armed ethnic group, following the detention by the KIA of a regional government minister and three policemen, DVB reported.
Hpakant contains many lucrative jade mining operations that have come under fire for creating mountainous slag heaps, some of which have caused deadly landslides.
Rights groups routinely criticize the companies for the detrimental social and environmental impacts of their activities in the largely unregulated industry.
A deadly landslide last week killed 13 people who were thought to have been scavenging for the valuable mineral in the unstable waste cast off from mining operations, according to local officials and news reports.
Reported by Kyaw Myo Min for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.