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Updated on March 11, 2019 From Myanmar Times

Armed group abducts some 70 field hands

The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is reported to have abducted more than 70 sugar cane workers from Man Pein village in Kutkai township, Shan State, on Saturday, according to villagers who were released.
       “When we went to the cane plantations in the morning, they blocked our way and detained us. We couldn’t escape as they blocked all our paths. They took everyone, including women, seniors and children. At first, more than 200 people were taken and loaded in three large trucks. On the way, they released some people, including us,” said one of the freed workers from Man Pein and Hpaung Sai villages.
       “They stopped at a place that they thought was safe and released ethnic Myanmar married women and elders,” one villager said.
       Among those still being held are believed to be four or five ethnic Kachin, five Myaungze people, 10 Chinese, and most of the rest ethnic Ta’ang or Palaung.
       “If you don’t show our faces, we’ll tell you the name of the group that abducted the villagers, We have to work here for a living and our lives are in danger. On that morning, troops wearing KIA emblems gathered near Man Kaung bridge, stopped all vehicles and motorcycles and took people away in trucks. The rest were released, as they were old,” said one Myanmar sugar cane farmer who was released.
       “They usually take people once or twice a year. They didn’t take that many last year, but it is different this year,” said villagers from Man Pein.
       The people who were taken are cane farmers in Kutkai and workers from Lashio township.
       “My husband was captured. He went out this morning to work in the cane fields and buy rice but he hasn’t returned,” said a pregnant mother with seven children in Phaung Sine village.
       Another man whose son was taken said: “I only have one son and I hoped to see him get married.”
       A Kachin woman whose husband was among those taken said, “The children are asking me when their father will return. My husband was captured on his way to the cane fields.”
       Attempts to reach the KIA for comment were unsuccessful.
       “On the day it happened, Kutkai police came and asked questions like how many people were taken, but they can’t do anything,” one local said.
       The Tatmadaw (military) sent troops after the kidnapping was reported, but they were unable to arrest anyone, residents said, adding that abductions for ransom and forced recruitment by armed ethnic groups happen often in the area.
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