Monday, 18 November 2019

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An armed group of extortionists-kidnappers runs wild in Mon State


Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Four gunmen have set fire to a workers’ rest building because a rubber plantation under the Ministry of Industry 2 refused to pay extortionists in Mon State.

On Saturday, four gunmen from a small, armed group known as Hapway Than Lwin, aka Koyinlay, came to the 700-acre rubber plantation located between Kwanhlar village on the edge of Mudon and Phaungsein villages in Thanbyuzayak Township in Mon State to extort 1.2 million kyat (about USD $1,518).

After their demand failed, they set fire to the building, workers said.

The extortion demand was made in late October. A female villager from KwanHlar village said, “They set the building on fire in broad daylight. Everyone was afraid and ran away. Everything burned.” The fire destroyed the building and the property of 20 workers.

The rubber plantation is located on the Mudon-Thanbyuzayat Road about one kilometer from government Infantry Unit No. 62.

A rubber plantation owner from Phaungsein village said, “After the arsonists set fire to the building, they forced motorcycles on the road to carry them away. They entered the jungle east of Abik village, according to the motorcycle drivers.”

After the fire, authorities in Kwanhlar and Phaungsein villages told workers not to leave the villages, and the workers stopped work until Wednesday, said the plantation owner.

Government troops were scouring Phaungsein and Kwanhlar villages and the road near Raungdaung, Hnipadaw and Abik villages.

The armed group is responsible for a series of extortions and kidnappings, said area residents.

On October 21, near Kamawak village in Mudon Township, the group set fire to a building where employees from the AK Company live and kidnapped four employees. Later, the group received 4 million kyat in payment, and they released the employees, sources said. The AK Company has a contract to build roads in southern Mon State.

On June 11, the group kidnapped an employee of the AK Company who was working on a road between Mudon and Thanbyuzayat and demanded 15 million kyat. The employee was released in mid-July.  

In July and August, the group is also said to have solicited money from well-off families in the area.
 
On July 17, the group set fire to a hut on a government-owned rubber plantation between Mudon and Thanbyuzayat.

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

When it held four employees from the AK Company for ransom, the four hostages were detained in the Taungdee area in Kyainseikgyi Township, said sources close to the four employees.
 

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