MANDALAY — Eight Chinese nationals have been detained for questioning at a prison in Monywa, Sagaing Division, after authorities caught them illegally carrying weapons near the Indian border.
The suspects were arrested on Friday in the border town of Tamu while carrying eight pistols, 31 grenades, 1,860 bullets, five walkie-talkies, three combat knives, eight military uniforms, a pair of binoculars, four mobile phones and a map of Burma, according to the government administration office in Tamu.
The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported that one of the suspects admitted through a translator that the group had been receiving military training in the Kokang self-administered region, which is located in northern Shan State and shares a border with China’s Yunnan Province.
The suspects were arrested by the police at a checkpoint in Tamu after a 15-minute car chase, the newspaper reported, adding that they had driven off with the car after allegedly killing an officer in Mainekyat, a village in the Kokang region.
“We haven’t been able to confirm yet the reason they came to this area because they each gave different answers to an interpreter,” a spokesman at the Tamu administration office told The Irrawaddy, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They have been handed over to Sagaing divisional authorities and are currently being detained at Monywa Prison for questioning.”
Three of the suspects came from China’s Sichuan Province, two came from Anhui, and the rest were from Guangxi, Hubei and Buizhou, according to the New Light of Myanmar.
Insurgency groups from India are known to travel through Tamu, and there have been many cases of illegal weapons seizures in recent years. However, local officials told The Irrawaddy that they had never before seized weapons from Chinese nationals in the area.
Local residents said they feared insurgents might increasingly use the border town as a channel for transporting weapons around the region.
“Since Tamu is a border town, we have always been worried about Indian insurgents. Now, again, it’s the Chinese. We just want to live peacefully,” Pu Liang, a shopkeeper, told The Irrawaddy.