TWO jade mining firms in the township of Hpakant in the Kachin State, Burma (Myanmar), have been forced to stop operations after being hit by numerous hand-made bombs in suspected arson attacks, following similar attacks a week before.
The Yadanar Moe Myay Co. Ltd. and Lin Htet Aung Co. Ltd. companies were both operating in Hmaw Si Sar village, according to The Irrawaddy newspaper.
Village administrator Lama Tu Ja told the newspaper that about eight people entered the mining compound around 8pm on Sunday. After telling people present to stand aside, they began to light and throw “hand-made bombs wrapped in tape”.
An official from the Yadanar Moe Myay company arrived at the site in response to the explosions, but the assailants reportedly pulled him from his vehicle and threw a bomb inside it, “totally destroying it”.
Local media reported machinery being damaged from the attacks, as well as some employee housing. The attack was repeated at the other company’s compound, forcing over 200 workers to find shelter at nearby villages.
Authorities do not know who is responsible for the attacks, and are still investigating the scene.
Burmese news channel DVB Multimedia also reported an attack in a different village, destroying at least 10 vehicles and other mining equipment.
The apparently separate attacks took place at the Yumar village, and targeted the warehouses of the Kyal Lin company.
According to the news channel, locals say the attacks were an “act of punishment” for the company refusing to give in to extortion demands from an armed group.
The attacks follow five bombings in the same region a week ago, which resulted in one woman being injured.
Jade mining is a contentious issue in Burma, with locals staging demonstrations frequently to protest companies’ exploitation of the gem and their lack of care for the environment or their workers.