Yangon - An official from a Chinese-backed copper mine in Myanmar where a villager was shot dead in a protest expressed sorry Tuesday at the incident and said it will impact the company's relationship with the community.
The death happened on Monday during a confrontation at the Letpadaung copper-mine project occurred as police and Chinese workers erected a fence on land that the villagers claimed as theirs, according to Khin San Hlaing, a lawmaker from the National League for Democracy party.
She said a woman in her 50s was fatally shot in the head, though it was not clear whether she was shot by police or mining company security personnel. Photos taken at the scene showed the dead woman bleeding from her head, and a wounded man sitting up with blood coming from his thigh. Khin San Hlaing said 12 people were wounded, with nine hospitalised, including two in critical condition.
A public relations officer from China's Wanbao Mining Copper expressed sorrow for the death of the villager. "Our hearts and prayers are with the family. We have lost a member of the Letpadaung family and we feel very sorry," said Cao Desheng.
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Cao said his company was trying to build trust with the villagers in the area and had received consent from a majority of the villagers to expand the mining project.
"We have made amazing progress in building trust with the community but we are so sorry that this incident has happened. This will affect the relationship with the community," Cao said.
The state-run Myanma Ahlin daily confirmed on Tuesday that one villager was killed and 20 others, including 11 policemen, were injured in the confrontation. It said police fired to break up the protest.
The mine, a joint venture between a Myanmar military-controlled holding company and Wanbao, drew attention two years ago when police forcefully dispersed protesters, injuring more than 100 Buddhist monks.
Because of the outcry, work at the mine was temporarily halted. The mining contract was renegotiated to ensure that millions of dollars go toward community development projects and to pay compensation to villagers, allowing the resumption of mining activities.