Thursday, 14 November 2019

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Four abducted in southern Mon State

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Four workers with the AK company, which maintains a contract with the Burmese government for the renovation of roads and bridges in southern Mon State, were on Friday morning kidnapped from their barracks.

AK-companyResidents said that approximately five members of the armed Mon group known as the Hwapway Than Lwin @ Koyinlay group set fire to a ten wheel truck and a hut housing AK staff. Four staff members were then abducted. Mizzima has not yet been able to contact the company for comment.

“We could hear an explosion even from the village. Those who went and looked said the hut and truck were turned into ashes,” said a girl from Kamarwat village, which is about one mile from the site of the incident.

“We heard that they took a car from AK company and headed toward Thanbyuzayat,” added another village girl.

Residents speculate the abductions occurred after AK company did not comply with demands for money from the armed group.  
On 11 June the group kidnapped another staff of AK company, who was working on a road between Mudon and Thanbyuzayat. The employee was eventually released in mid-July following payment by the company in the amount of 1.5 million kyat, or approximately US$ 1,900.

Speculation is ripe among the local community that this group was involved in the bombing of an Auto-Exchange office near Mudon on 14 May as well as the burning of two passenger buses running between Yay and Thanbyuzayat and the kidnapping of six bus drivers and bus attendants on 29 June.

In July and August of this year the group is also said to have solicited money from families in the area known to be in good economic standing.  

Further, following the group’s burning of a hut in a government owned rubber plantation between Mudon and Thanbyuzayat on 17 July, authorities warned workers at the plantation to return home.

The Hwapway Than Lwin @ Koyinlay group operates in portions of Karen and Mon States and was formerly known as the Mon National Defense Army.

There have been several instances of attempted blackmailing and kidnapping in the wake of a September 2010 ceasefire agreement between the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Burmese government.

AK company initially entered Mon state at the end of 2010 to renovate a 120-mile stretch of road from Mawlamyaing to Yay.

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