5 villagers die in clash with police at Myanmar jade mine

Police in northern Myanmar opened fire on hundreds of villagers who tried to enter a jade mine area, killing at least five and injuring 20 others, state media said. Five policemen were also reportedly hurt.

The official Myanmar News Agency said 50 jade seekers initially tried to force their way into the privately owned mine area in Kachin state Wednesday night, but were blocked by patrolling police. It said they left, but nearly 600 people returned an hour later and clashed with the police, burning trucks and damaging a backhoe.

The government news agency said police opened fire after being attacked with knives.

It said nine of the injured were in serious condition.

The state's Hpakant township has much of the world's highest-quality jade ore. Big, well-connected companies mine most of the jade, while desperately poor villagers risk their lives by digging for scraps. Piles of mining waste have collapsed on villagers several times, killing dozens.