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Three shot dead in boat on Mekong river
Three people have been shot dead onboard a long-tailed boat in an outbreak of violence on the Mekong River following the murder of 13 Chinese sailors more than eight months ago.
The victims, believed to be Myanmar nationals, were shot by an unidentified armed group on Friday as their speedboat was travelling about 10km north of the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet, a source said.
The area is notorious for drug smuggling.
Authorities are investigating whether the three people are linked to a drug gang led by Naw Kham, a suspected Myanmar drug dealer.
It is still unclear who attacked the boat, the source said.
However, the deadly attack was the first in eight months after China, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar set up a joint law enforcement team to protect cargo boats along the Mekong.
On Oct 5 last year, 13 Chinese sailors on two Chinese-flagged cargo boats were believed to have been killed before being thrown into the river.
Patrolling Thai soldiers who seized 920,000 speed pills on the boats are suspected of involvement in the murders, but they have pointed the finger at a Shan drug trafficking gang led by Naw Kham.
Authorities believe the two boats were hijacked by the gang to use for carrying drugs into Thailand.
Naw Kham was arrested in April for alleged links to the murders. He was extradited by Laos officers to China on May 10.
Chinese investigators have reportedly finished questioning Naw Kham, who authorities claim is addicted to crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice.
The unsafe atmosphere near the Golden Triangle has caused Chinese businessmen to be more alert to possible danger.
Fewer Chinese-flagged boats have sailed in the area since last year's massacre, while Chinese investors in Ton Pheung district of Boekeo province in Laos are recruiting more security guards.
Investors in Kings Romans of Laos Asian and Tourism Development Zone in Ton Pheung have reportedly employed 200 Chinese men to be security guards for the project.
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