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Cash starved DKBA extorts money from drivers

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Officers of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) admitted that they forced owners of buses, trucks and motorcycles in Kawkareik Township in Karen State to pay money on Wednesday in order to buy arms and ammunitions.

DKBA soldiers extorted money from drivers on Wednesday to buy arms and ammunition, calling it a 'donation to the revolution.' Photo: Mizzima‘We told them our situation and asked for help. We asked 100,000 kyat (US$ 128) per bus. Some of them paid and some didn’t because they couldn’t afford it’, DKBA Major Kaw Doe Soe told Mizzima.

According to passengers, about 100 DKBA troops blocked a highway on that day for about two hours starting about 3 p.m. and asked money from drivers. Troops were equipped with automatic rifles, mortars and RPG shells, said passengers.

A bus owner said that the troops were led by DKBA 5th Brigade Operation Commander Major Saw San Aung.

Soldiers asked for 200,000 kyat (US$ 256) per passenger bus, 100,000 kyat (US$ 128) per light truck and 10,000 kyat (US$ 12.80) per motorcycle from owners. They didn’t ask for money from passengers, said a bus driver who operates on the Myawady-Mawlamyine route said.

‘Most of the car owners could not give the amount they asked for, but they paid what they could and the rebels didn’t make any problem for them. They didn’t ask any money from passengers. They talked to passengers about how they hate the government’, a bus owner told Mizzima.

Government troops of infantry battalions (IB) 547 and 230 were stationed about one mile from the road blockade. The DKBA troops withdrew when they were fired on by a 60 mm mortar.

‘We showed the people how the government troops can not provide protection to them, and we showed the government soldiers that we can do whatever we want at anytime, anywhere’, Major Kaw Doe Soe said.

He rejected the word ‘extortion money’ and said it was a ‘donation to the revolution’.

An officer who accompanied Major Saw San Aung said, ‘Government troops tried to dominate our area in their operations and they tried to use this highway as the major trade route between Thailand and Burma. So we came and smashed their plan’.

Frequent clashes have taken place on the Myawady-Kawkereik highway between government troops and a combined force of the Karen National Union (KNU) and DKBA and the number of passengers traveling on the highway has dropped sharply, said a bus employee in Myawaday.

Business in area grocery stores, textile and ready-made garment shops ad markets has been slow, said local traders.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 02 June 2011 19:58 )  

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