Khawzar Town is located twenty-four mile south of Ye Town, and was promoted from village-tract to sub-township tract in 2000. IB No. 31 has established a base in the town, as has several government offices and a police station, but the three groups fail to provide substantive security for the town.
“There [is a] battalion and [a] police station, but abductions take place often in this sub-township. No group can help provide protection; there is no security for the town at all,” said Mi Myint Than, in an interview with IMNA.
On September 19th, around 8:00 PM, an unknown armed group kidnapped four Khawzar residents, demanding 750 hundred thousand kyat in exchange for their release.
Families of the victims did not inform the police of the abduction.
“The police has invited us for questions three times already, [asking] how the situation is. The police also told us not to spread [information] about this case, and not to report [the abduction] to media groups,” said a family member of one of the victims.
The armed group responsible for the kidnappings is believed to be active in southern Ye Township, and Yebyu Township. According to a local official from the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the group demands annual extortion fees from these villages, and if they fail to pay, any prominent resident of the villages is in danger of being kidnapped.
“In this area, our NMSP cannot take charge, since government departments are already [here]. It is not possible for us [dressed] in [office] jackets to initiate a search for [the kidnapped], since the [group that committed the crime] also holds arms. So, for the security of the area, we do not have permission to handle the case directly,” said the NMSP official.
Khawzar Town and nearby areas used to be under NMSP control, but after the NMSP signed a ceasefire agreement with the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in 1995, the area was transferred to government control. However, Mon breakaway armed group are still active in the area.