Police injured in attack by crowds when inspecting illegal excavation in Minbu

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Authorities inspect the things found at the illegal excavation site. Photo: Zay Yatu (Magway)

Some policemen were injured after a crowd of 300 people attacked them with catapaults when they tried to stop illegal excavation on a site in a village in Minbu Township, Magway Region, on 10 October night, according to police. At 9 pm on 10 October, U Aung Moe informed the police that hundreds of people are illegally excavating his farmland in Ma-gyi-thone-bin Village in Minbu Township. Alongside village officials, a witness and the farmland owner, 12 policemen led by Sub-inspectors Kyaw Nyein and Lin Naing Oo, armed with a total of four guns, arrived at the site at about 9:20 pm, and they saw about 300 people, holding electric torches in their hands, were carrying out the illegal excavation in search of ancient antiques.
From about 100-yard away from the crowd, the police ordered the crowd to stop the illegal excavation and to go home. Then the crowd shouted and attacked the police by using slingshots. Some police were injured by the attack, so the police fired warning shots into the sky to control the situation and then the police withdrew from the site, according to the police. “We are still hunting the offenders,” said an officer of Minbu Township Police
Force. Magway Region Department of Archaeology Deputy Director U Myint Thein said that they will report the case to the regional government and the headquarters of the Department of Archaeology. On 11 October morning, Police Colonel Hlaing Tint from Magway Region Police Force, inspected the site.
In the pits at the site, the officials found 48 things believed to be shards of ancient pottery, 11 things believed to be human bones, and a small pottery. Officials from the Department of Archaeology visited the site and recorded the finding.
“The Pyu-era ancient materials, widely excavated from our area can command high prices in the market. Some people are willing to pay high prices for those materials. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, some people have lost their livelihoods. In this case, it seems that their greed and anger sparked the illegal excavation,” said a Minbu resident. Currently, four people including U Myint Oo have been charged under section 447/427 of the Penal Code for the illegal excavation. U Myint Oo, U Tun Win, U Chak Kyi, and U Ye Htwe have been charged under section 353/333/114 for attacking the policemen, according to the Minbu Township Police Force.—Zay Yatu (Magway) (Translated by Maung Maung Swe)

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