“On September 24th , we were informed [that we must] provide [the armed group with] 750 thousand kyat, but, we are not okay [with] provid[ing] such a demand,” said a relative of one of the hostages, in an interview with IMNA. The relative added that the Khawzar Abbot, the quarter administrator, and family members of the abducted are still engaged in discussion as how to handle the situation.
“After we [were told] to provide the money, we have not heard any [further] news. We are worried about their [the abductees’] health conditions and whether they are in danger,” said a family member of one of the abducted.
It has been assumed that the unknown armed group that are holding the four Khawzar residents hostage must be based somewhere along the Ye-Dawei highway, near Mon State and Tenasserim Division.
When IMNA reached out to Khawzar Town’s police station in regards to the kidnapping, an official replied that the police had no knowledge of the incident; stating that “No one came to inform us about this abduction matter yet, and we have not heard about the abduction either”.
Around 8pm on September 19th, four men and two women were making preparations for Maha-Dout offerings at the Auk Monastery in Khawzar Town, when they were kidnapped by the unknown armed group. A 60-year-old man and a woman, the mother of a young child, were released the next day, while the four remaining victims continue to be held hostage by the armed group.
Last May, a Mon armed group sent extortion letters to two monasteries in Khawzar Town, demanding local residents provide the group with 400 thousand kyat.
Four separate armed groups are active along southern Ye Township and northern Yebyu Township, led by Nai Saung, Nai Chan Dein, and Nai Lwin, respectively, and have been known to arrest villagers and demand money.