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Chinese police attacked while patrolling Mekong River

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Thai authorities are reporting that three Chinese policemen suffered injuries from a gun and knife fight with Myanmar-based drug smugglers while patrolling the Mekong River in the Golden Triangle area, according to Chinese media reports.

The Chinese police boat was patrolling the Mekong in accordance with a regional agreement focused on fighting drug smuggling in the area. According to the Thai navy, a boat with approximately six people on board approached the Chinese police vessel and suddenly began to open fire.

According to reports, the alleged drug smugglers proceeded to jump on the police boat, shooting and stabbing three Chinese police officers during a five-minute conflict before jumping back onto their boat and speeding away. The three injured officers were rushed to a hospital in Chiang Rai, Thailand afterward.

It is believed that the attack on the Chinese police boat was organized by a local drug smuggling organization that was trying to protect its drug transport route on the Mekong. The Chinese police were reportedly patrolling the area on an inside tip.

Myanmar is the second-largest producer of opium in the world, trailing only Afghanistan. According to a United Nations report released last October, Myanmar experienced a 46 percent increase in opium production in 2007 – after a 10-year period in which opium production had declined each year.

Primary reasons cited by the report for increased opium production in Myanmar – which is ruled by a military junta – include official corruption, high-level conspiracy and ineffective border management. In addition to increased opium production, Myanmar in recent years has become a major producer of amphetamine, producing several hundred million pills yearly, the majority of which are smuggled into Thailand and China.

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