MANDALAY — A prospector and a policeman were killed in the Hpakant jade mining area of Kachin State during a clash between authorities and prospective miners on Monday.
The two men were killed when an argument broke out as police tried to stop prospectors from searching for jade scraps before a permitted time at Yadanar San Shwin mining company near Hseit Mu village, said witnesses.
“A prospector tried to grab the policeman’s gun. There was a shooting and the prospector died there,” said a witness who did not want to be named out of fear for their safety.
The group of prospectors then attacked the policeman, who died on the spot, according to first-hand accounts.
“Later, more police arrived and shot at the prospectors, who then left. We heard another prospector was shot but we could not confirm it,” added the witness.
Hpakant Police Station confirmed an officer had died but declined to comment further on the incident.
Local lawmakers told The Irrawaddy they are planning to raise the issue of violence in the mining areas in the next state parliament session.
“Incidents like this happen every year, especially during the start and end of the mining season [from mid-October-June],” said state lawmaker U Lashi Daseng of Hpakant constituency. “We will submit this issue in parliament as an important matter.”
In Lone Kin and Hpakant jade mining areas, clashes between freelance miners, jade mining firms and security forces are common, as the firms do not want the prospectors to work in their areas.
In October, five prospectors were shot dead and at least 20 injured when security forces opened fire on them for scavenging for jade scraps in the Lone Kin mining area of Kachin State.
Although local administration offices have mediated negotiations between the prospectors and mining companies in order to allow prospectors restricted access to the areas, clashes still persist.
“Even though we are doing our best to help negotiations between them, we need concrete rules and regulation, and, of course, rule of law. That can only be achieved with the central government’s orders and power,” added U Lashi Daseng.