Karen leaders say they were threatened by gunmen when they visited rock quarries on the foothill of Lun Nya Mountain in Hpa-an Township, last week.
Lun Nya Village Youth Group’s chair Saw Khite Khite told Karen News that 13 people from the village including him and a monastery donor went to the foothill of Lun Nya Mountain to observe the quarries on November 15.
“The digging has nearly depleted our mountain, so we asked permission from the village administrator to observe the situation of the rock quarries,” he said. “On our way back, a white vehicle was driving wildly and ten shots were fired at us from the vehicle. They were threatening us with the guns to prevent us from going back there again.”
The mountain hosts over 20 rock quarries and the village youth group was trying to index the work. And take stock of the situation.
The 11 quarries on the western side of the mountain are run by local residents, while the 12 rock quarries on the eastern side are run by foreigners. Although some have shut down, others are still operating, Saw Khite Khite said.
The local administrator, Saw Phoe Tu Tu, also known as Saw Aung Win Shwe, said he’s not sure who targeted the youth group.
“I don’t know who shot them. After the former rock quarries were shut down, four Karen armed groups are running the rock quarries together to produce rocks for the Asia Highway. We couldn’t stop them,” he said.
Each rock quarry has provided between K100,000 and K200,000 each year for village development, he added.