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Kachin troops missing since their for ‘drug offences’

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Two Kachin officers, one who had donated funds to families of victims of a deadly landmine blast, and a private, have been missing since they were arrested by junta officials a day earlier, the main armed group in northern Burmese state said.

kia-officersTwo Kachin officers, one who had donated funds to families of victims of a deadly landmine blast, and a private, disappeared yesterday after being arrested a day earlier, the main armed group in the northern Burmese state said.

The junta’s Burmese Army Northern Command phoned the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) yesterday morning and claimed the trio had fled custody soon after they were detained, a KIO liaison officer told Mizzima.

Police led by a second lieutenant detained Hopin Township liaison office chief Captain Khaung Lwan at about 10 a.m. on Monday as he was travelling by van to Mohnyin Township, Kachin State, after providing financial support to families of victims of the blast near KIO headquarters at Laiza.

A joint force of police and Military Affairs Security (MAS, the military’s intelligence wing) had also detained a warrant officer second class and a private from Hopin.

“They [Northern Command officers] said the KIO officers fled this morning [yesterday]. I think they lied. The officers vanished after they were arrested. Anyway, whether they vanished or fled, it’s the junta’s responsibility,” the officer said, adding that the organisation had been unable to contact the officers since their arrest.

Khaung Lwan was on his way to visit an injured survivor of the landmine blast at Mohnyin Hospital when he was arrested. He had informed MAS staff on Sunday that he would meet the families of victims of the blast, which had occurred on Nwalabo Hill in Mohnyin last Wednesday.

At about 1 a.m. yesterday, policeman Win Oo and Captain Kyaw Soe Moe from the MAS and their colleagues entered the KIO liaison office in Hopin and ransacked the building for about four hours, seizing an Icom communications radio.

“There were about 10 officers … police and MAS … Some are heads of the ward,” the KIO officer said. He added that the phone lines to Hopin and Mohnyin liaison offices had been cut.

The KIO had complained on Monday night that leaders of the junta’s Infantry Battalion No. 142, under the Northern Command, had failed to give sufficient reasons for the arrests.

KIO Mohnyin liaison office chief Warrant Officer Second Class Tang Goon went to the Mohnyin Police Station to ask about the case, but officers there said they were awaiting orders from their superiors.

At about 4 p.m. on Monday, police and ward chiefs searched Khaung Lwan’s van after a traffic stop and said they had found opium inside.

While being charged with drug trafficking, Khaung Lwan and the warrant officer fled, the KIO quoted the junta’s Northern Command as saying.

A KIO officer said Khaung Lwan had never misused drugs, and accused the junta of concocting the escape story.

“The captain doesn’t like drug users and he has abstained from smoking so the authorities’ allegations shocked us. But this is not the first time the junta has cheated,” he said. 

The group said it was uninterested in launching a military attack againt the Burmese Army, but that it was organised as an advocate for the rights of Kachin people.

KIO had rejected the junta’s Border Guard Force (BGF) plan, so the junta might be inventing reasons to attack the KIO, Burmese political researcher Htay Aung, from the Network for Democracy and Development in Thailand, said.

“Among all the groups under ceasefire [since 1994], the junta feels a deep resentment towards the KIO. If they get enough ‘reasons’ to attack it [such as the bomb blast at Myitsone dam and this case], they will launch military attacks,” he said. 

“The recent mine blast on Nwalabo Hill could be one of their reasons to attack. They will tell the international community they attacked because of the mine blast … after the election, if they want to attack a ceasefire group, they will give the reason that they are just following the orders of the civil government,” Htay Aung told Mizzima.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 October 2010 20:09 )  

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