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Violent Standoff Continues at Myanmar Mine Protest


Police at the Letpadaung Copper Mine in northern Myanmar prepare for a confrontation with protesters, Dec. 22, 2014. (photographer unknown)

Police at the Letpadaung Copper Mine in northern Myanmar prepare for a confrontation with protesters, Dec. 22, 2014. (photographer unknown)

Violence is continuing at a Chinese-run copper mine in Myanmar, also known as Burma, as protesters continue a standoff with security forces over plans to expand the mine.

At least two people were hurt in clashes Tuesday, one day after one person was killed and 20 were injured in violence at the Letpadaung mine in the northern part of the country.

A local resident who did not want to be named told VOA's Burmese service that protesters were continuing their campaign to stop mine expansion that would force villagers to be relocated.

“[Tuesday] in the early morning, around 2,000 members of security forces and Wan Bao security guards attempted to fence off land for the mining project, and local villagers went there to stop the attempt. Two villagers were seriously injured in shooting that ensued,” said the resident.

Villagers in northern Myanmar lay in front of a bulldozer as part of their bid to stop the controversial expansion of the Chinese-run Letpadaung copper mine, Dec. 22, 2014. (photographer unknown)

Villagers in northern Myanmar lay in front of a bulldozer as part of their bid to stop the controversial expansion of the Chinese-run Letpadaung copper mine, Dec. 22, 2014. (photographer unknown)

Wan Bao, the Chinese company that runs the mine as part of a joint project, released a statement on its website Tuesday expressing sympathy for the woman who died in the violence Monday.

The company also said most local residents support its plans and that 2 percent of the mine's profits will go to community development. The local support cited by the company could not be independently verified.

When reached by VOA, local security officials declined to comment on the situation. Reports have said 11 police were among those injured Monday.

The U.S. State Department told VOA it was deeply concerned about the reports of casualties at the Letpadaung mine. The department said it had urged all parties to exercise restraint, and it called on Burmese authorities to conduct an “expeditious and transparent investigation” into the violence.

Expansion of the Letpadaung mine has drawn frequent protests from locals, who say they have been unfairly compensated for the land and are worried about the environmental impact of the project.

Earlier this year, two Chinese workers at the mine were briefly kidnapped by local activists. However, they were later released unharmed.

Wan Bao runs the mine together with local companies under a deal that dates to the previous military government.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Burmese Service.

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