Chinese cargo ship fired on from Laos
Jan 16, 2012, 10:09 GMT
Beijing - A Chinese cargo ship came under fire from the Lao side of the Mekong River on the weekend, China's Ministry of Public Security reported Monday.
The five crewmen were unharmed after Saturday's attack as the ship was en route from the Thai river port of Chiang Saen to Guanlei in south-western China's Yunnan province, the ministry said.
A police patrol boat carrying about 200 Chinese and Lao officers responded to a distress call from the ship, which was transporting timber.
Under an agreement with Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, China sent armed officers to join patrols in late last year, after 13 Chinese sailors were murdered on the Mekong on October 5.
Thailand detained and charged nine Thai soldiers with the murder of that Chinese crew. The accused denied the charges, and alleged that a gang from Shan State in northern Myanmar was behind the killings.
Three Myanmar soldiers were also killed during a joint patrol with Lao troops when they clashed with a suspected criminal gang along the Mekong River last month, news reports said.
Authorities are increasingly concerned about gangs operating on in the area known as the Golden Triangle, which straddles Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and south-western China, so called because of its opium production.
The gangs are believed to grow and smuggle drugs, hijack boats for use in trafficking and for ransom, and kidnap crews along the waterway.
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