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Three people were said to have been killed on 24 December when soldiers of the Karenni National Progressive Party ambushed a Burmese army convoy escorting workers of the Salween Dam Construction Project in Southeast Burma.
“Among those who got attacked were foreign workers and engineers and they were going to work on the Salween dam project”, said KNPP spokesperson Khu Oo Reh. “We have been protesting the building of dam on the Salween all along and this attack is the extension of our protest.”
He was unable to say if foreign workers were among those killed during the attack which occurred in Karenni (Kayah) State near northern Thailand’s Maehongson province.
“We only know that three people were killed but we are not sure whether they were civilians or security personnel.”
The attack came at a time when another rebel group, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and government troops were escalating their fight in nearby Karen State to the south.
“Battles have been going on all along whenever opportunities are there,” Khu Oo Reh said. “The general agreement is for ethnic nationality forces in different regions to initiate military moves in their own regions if one of them gets attacked in another area.”
“We initiated the attack because the dam project does not benefit the people. People face hardships, wild life gets killed, and villages get relocated by the project. The output from the dam will only be sold to foreign countries and the people will not benefit from it. That is why we are trying to disrupt it.”
Plans have been tabled for seven dams to be built along the Salween river, which runs from China through eastern Burma’s Shan, Karenni and Karen States to the Andaman Sea. Much of the electricity produced by the dams is bound for China and Thailand, with Beijing holding the largest share in the project.