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Seven villagers were injured with rubber bullets when police clashed with protestors in Mogyopyin near the Latpadaung copper mine in Sagaing division on Thursday evening. Local sources told DVB that another three protestors were detained by police during the confrontation.
Local resident La Pyae said that the seven villagers were injured when police opened fire at them.
“Seven locals from Mogyopyin – Aye San, Soe Pyae Aung, Pho Si, Maung Myo, Htun Aye, U Hmine and Bo Ni – were shot by the police, but they refused to go to hospital because they feared for their security. They chose to return home for treatment,” said La Pyae.
He added that the Free Funeral Service Society sent ambulances to escort the wounded to hospital but they refused to go.
He said the villagers clashed with police who had blocked them from travelling from their village to join a protest camp at nearby Ingyin Hill.
But according to Burma’s Ministry of Information, nine police officers were injured during the incident when the protesting villagers targeted the police with rocks thrown from slingshots. The ministry said that the windshields of two police vehicles were smashed in the melee.
“The police unit, under supervision of commander Zaw Win Aung, assigned for security at the milestone 440/4 along the Pathein-Monywa highway road between the Ingyin Hill protest camp and Mogyopyin village, around 7pm came under attack by over 150 locals from the village, targeting them with slingshots and hurling rocks. The villagers only retreated after the security forces began firing warning shots,” the Ministry of Information said in a statement on Friday.
Police in Salingyi township, where the village is located, said they were still unclear about the details of the incident when speaking to DVB reporters.
Sandar Thiri, a Buddhist monk at the Ingyin Hill rally camp, said that police had been deployed since Tuesday to prevent the Mogyopyin villagers from getting to the protest camp where hundreds of other villagers, activists and monks have congregated to voice their concerns about damage to a local Buddhist site and the resumption of work at the controversial Chinese-backed copper mine project.
The Latpadaung copper mine project, which is a joint Burmese military and Chinese venture, has provoked outrage from locals who say it will cause irreversible environmental damage and has forced hundreds from their homes.
A previous sit-in protest was broken up brutally by riot police on 29 November last year. Some 80 protestors were injured, many with horrific burns that several experts have attributed to white phosphorous bombs.
A subsequent investigation headed by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi failed to pronounce anyone guilty for the violent crackdown, and to many villagers’ dismay, recommended to the government that the project be resumed.
Meanwhile, on Friday morning, Naw Ohn Hla, a well-known activist who was imprisoned in August after leading protests at Latpadaung, was released in a presidential amnesty along with 68 other political prisoners.