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Mekong River shipping suspended after 13 Chinese sailors killed

(Xinhua)

08:27, October 11, 2011

KUNMING, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Shipping on the Mekong River has been suspended after two cargo ships were attacked last Wednesday in the "Golden Triangle," where the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet, the maritime affairs department of southwest China's Yunnan province said on Monday.

Thai authorities on Monday confirmed that all 13 Chinese crewmen on the two hijacked ships were killed and identified the killers as a drug trafficking ring operating on the Mekong River.

A total of 116 of the 130 ships engaged in international shipping on the Mekong River are operated by Chinese companies, according to the Lancang River Maritime Affairs Bureau.

A spokesman for a logistics company that owns two cargo ships said that his company still needs to deliver a large shipment of goods via the river.

"Out of concern for our crew's safety, we have asked them to go back to China from Thailand by land while the two ships are entrusted to another party for temporary protection," said the spokesman, who requested anonymity.

The provincial maritime affairs department, along with relevant non-governmental organizations in Yunnan, has begun to help Chinese crewmen return to China safely and adopt proper measures to protect Chinese ships on the Mekong River.

The Mekong River, known in China as the Lancang River, rises on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam to the South China Sea. It plays a crucial economic role among the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries.

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