Monday, January 9, 2012

New attacks on Mekong River


Monday, 09 January 2012 17:09 Mizzima News

(Mizzima) – Four Chinese cargo ships and a Burmese patrol boat were attacked last week on the Mekong River in Burma.

Chinese media reported that the attack on January 4 has heightened security concerns, following an earlier attack in which 13 Chinese sailors were murdered in October.

The People's Daily reported that a group of Chinese ships was composed of three cargo vessels and an oil tanker. The attack happened less than a month after international shipping resumed on the Mekong River and Chinese border police started patrolling the river with their counterparts from Thailand, Laos and Burma.

A Thai press release said the attackers fired two rockets. One fell into the water while the other exploded near the ships. There were no reports of deaths or injuries.

On Oct 5, 13 Chinese sailors aboard two cargo ships were shot dead by a group of gunmen in a section of the Mekong River near the Golden Triangle. Thai police have said their country's servicemen were involved in the crime.

China Daily said that from Dec 10, when the shipping resumed, to Jan 3, vessels transported 15,844 tons of cargo on the river. In the first 10 months of the year, an average of 24,280 tons were shipped on the river each month, said Fu Zhiming, Party secretary of the Lancang River Maritime Bureau.

"About two thirds of the 86 freighters that are registered for international shipping on the river have returned to do business and so have many sailors," he said.

"The joint patrol on the river is more of a 'deterrent force', because it is not easy for patrols on the river to fight back," he said. "If we cannot guarantee safety, the economic value of this waterway will be nothing."

Statistics show more than 3 million tons of cargo have been transported on the Mekong River since 2001, generating more than 30 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) from imports and exports, the paper reported.

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