by Staff Writers
Bangkok (AFP) Oct 11, 2011
Thai authorities on Tuesday said the bodies of 13 people had been recovered after a raid last week on two Chinese cargo boats on the Mekong thought to have been carried out by a notorious drug gang.
The dead included women and a teenager, said Sermsak Srisant, district chief of Chiang Saen in northern Thailand, near the borders with Laos and Myanmar, in the so-called "Golden Triangle" area known for narcotics smuggling.
Authorities were trying to ascertain whether all 13, who had each suffered gunshot wounds, were members of the boats' crews, he said. One body was found on a ship while the rest were retrieved from the river.
"We believe these two cargo boats were attacked by a drug group who were active in the Golden Triangle," Sermsak told AFP, adding that 920,000 amphetamine tablets were discovered on the boats.
Sermsak said the gang could have hijacked the boats further north on the river, between Myanmar and Laos, and attempted to force the crew to carry illicit cargo, but that a shootout appeared to have broken out.
Drug kingpin "Nor Kham", who is wanted by the Myanmar authorities, was believed to have been behind the attack, he said.
China's ministry of foreign affairs said it was suspending shipping on the Mekong on Monday in response to the attack on the cargo ships "Hua Ping" and "Yu Xing 8" on October 5.
Some Chinese ship operators have asked their Chinese crew to return to China overland from Thailand despite pending deliveries.
Olivier Evrard, anthropologist at the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD), said the Mekong in the Golden Triangle has long been "an area of fluvial piracy".
He said continuing piracy in the area was explained by a "low degree of political control" and a "high volume of commercial flux".
21st Century Pirates
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Attack on Chinese boats in Mekong River kills 11
Beijing (AFP) Oct 10, 2011
Eleven Chinese were killed and two missing after their cargo boats were attacked in the golden triangle area of the Mekong River, state media said on Sunday. The two ships, the Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8, were attacked on October 5, according to the Xinhua news agency, which said China's leaders were "paying close attention to the matter". The foreign ministry in Beijing has asked the Chines ... read more
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