Hpakant rocked by explosions; one person injured

Hpakant rocked by explosions; one person injured

The Kachin State jade-mining town of Hpakant was rocked by a series of explosions on Sunday, leaving one person injured, according to state-run media.

There were at least seven blasts reported in Hpakant on 8 May. The first one went off around 7am in the village of Saitaung, injuring a woman’s leg. Four more explosions followed in the same area later in the day.

At 4pm, another bomb exploded near to a police outpost at a bridge connecting Hpakant and Mashikataung ward, shattering the windows of a firetruck. The last one went off in the village of Lawng Hkang.

A resident in Hpakant named Shwe Thein said: “The explosions were in the vicinity of a military base in the centre of the village, sending the residents into panic as we knew there was fighting in Kansee and Aungbalay villages and this might be connected to it.”

The Ministry of Information at 6pm on Sunday announced security forces were deployed in the town following the blasts while the road connecting the town and Saitaung  was also shut down temporarily.

A series of similar incidents in January of last year left at least half a dozen people injured, including four people at a police station that was the target of a grenade attack.

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Although it was unclear who was behind those attacks, the explosions occurred soon after clashes broke out between the Burmese army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) following the detention by the KIA of regional government minister and three policemen.

Late last week, there was also a deadly landslide that killed at least 13 people in Hpakant, an area infamous for its largely unregulated mining industry and general lawlessness.

Besides military clashes and accidental deaths caused by the collapse of massive slag heaps that tower over the homes of impoverished jade scavengers, the area also has an extremely high rate of heroin addiction.

Reporting by DVB

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