Friday, 13 December 2019

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Seven suspects arrested in connection with kidnappers’ group


Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Authorities have arrested seven suspects in connection with an armed group that has staged a series of kidnappings in the Three Pagoda Pass area in Karen State, Burma.
 
Troops of the Three Pagoda-based Burmese Infantry Unit No. 32 arrested seven people last week including the owner of a rubber plantation and turned them over to police, according to a source close to the issue.
 
“Some suspects had weapons and some of them had to be released because of a lack of evidence,” said a source who asked not to be identified.
 
One of those arrested, Nai Balai, 56, a member of the Mon Literature and Culture Association in Three Pagoda Pass Township, was released on bail that was guaranteed by a monk and community leaders on Thursday. The remaining six suspects have been detained in the police station, according to sources, who said a kidnapping group has been active in the area since early August.

In the name of the “Mon State Rehabilitation Force,” unidentified members extorted money by letters sent to 28 businessmen including owners of rubber plantations and gold shops, sources said.
 
On August 7, a group kidnapped a rubber plantation owner and his two employees in Ward No. 4 in Three Pagoda Pass and received a ransom of 50,000 baht (about US$ 1,600), sources said. At least four similar kidnappings were committed around Three Pagoda Pass. All the victims were rubber plantation owners.
 
On August 10, Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Saw Yan Naing of Infantry Unit No. 284, the township Administrative Office chief Thein Tun and 60 owners of rubber plantations held a meeting to try to solve the problem. They formed a “Three Pagoda Pass People’s Militant Group,” but its members could not protect residents from kidnappings.
 
“I’m afraid of being kidnapped. I’m afraid to go to my plantation,” said an owner of a rubber plantation.
 
On June 14, a group of unknown gunmen fired on the Aung Tin Win gold shop-cum-home in downtown Three Pagoda Pass, where the Karen National Union, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and the New Mon State Party are active.
 
On June 5, four masked gunmen fired into the government’s Military Affairs Security office and a religious hall.
 
The Kachin’s last stand
Since October this year, Burma has been in a state of civil war, with fighting between Burmese military and armed ethnic rebels. The ruling junta started a crackdown on these armed groups.

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