River pirates are running rampant on moored boats in Mandalay but ship owners and workers are too afraid to report cases to police or the media, sources in the area say.

Two weeks ago, a group of women sleeping on board a ship docked on the Ayeyarwady River in Mandalay’s Chan Aye Thar San township was targeted by the pirates.

“There are many ships docking at this time of year so robbers are particularly active,” said a ship owner, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution.

One of the women shouted for help and was attacked by the group, suffering injuries to her head and chest after being hit by an object fired with a slingshot.

The attack has had a chilling effect on river workers, who are now too afraid to inform the authorities when a robbery occurs.

“The girl … had left the ship and said she would inform the police. Now nobody dares to speak about the pirates because they attack those who report them to the newspapers,” said another local source, who asked to remain unidentified.

Eight batteries from another ship were stolen on the same morning, the source said.

Witnesses say the attackers, who travel in groups of four to six and carry knives and other homemade weapons, usually arrive by boat. According to ship owners, they are from villages near Sagaing.

“I see them regularly in the evenings but don’t dare catch them because they are so unruly,” one witness said.

Daw Tin Tin Mar, the Mandalay Region Hluttaw representative for Chan Aye Thar San 2, said she would raise the issue in parliament.

“I will make a report about it when the regional parliament resumes and submit a letter to the speaker during the parliamentary break,” she said.

One ship owner said robberies occur frequently in Mayanchan, Bawka Bala and Daewon ports in Mandalay and near Shan Lay Kyun in Amapura township.

In early March, 19 members of a gang accused of stopping and robbing vessels on the Ayeyarwady River were arrested south of Mandalay. The group’s acts earned it the name “Ayeyarwady Somali”, a reference to the Somali pirates that prowl the Indian Ocean. Its notoriety quickly attracted the attention of regional police, who managed to arrest members of the group near Amarapura township’s Shangalay Kyun village on March 7. More than 100 police officers took part in the raid on the hideouts, with 10 men and nine women taken into custody.

Translation by Zar Zar Soe

Link: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/mandalay-upper-myanmar/11279-pirates-of-the-ayeyarwady-terrorise-port-communities.html