Myanmar Military Detains, Releases 7 After Bus Burns: Shan Locals

By Lawi Weng 30 August 2019

The Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, has released seven ethnic Kachin detainees in Kutkai Township, in northern Shan State, after holding them for six hours Friday morning in connection to the burning of a truck in a nearby village on Thursday night, local sources told The Irrawaddy.

La Lat, a Kachin religious leader from Yung Ngaw Village, told The Irrawaddy Friday that Tatmadaw troops from Infantry Division 88 detained seven local residents that morning and released them at 2 p.m.

“They asked them whether they knew who burned down the truck, which armed organization, but they told [the military] they did not know,” he said. “After tying them up, [the military troops] shot some rounds into the air to threaten them.”

Tatmadaw spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy he had not heard of seven people being detained by the military in the area.

La Lat said the detainees were not beaten and did not sustain any injuries.

Locals say the troops entered the village at 8 a.m. Friday and detained the individuals near the highway where the truck had burned, between Muse and Kutkai.

“The Army suspected them and arrested them,” Lat Lat said.

He said the head village leader from Yung Ngaw Village met with the military troops Thursday morning to ask for their release, telling troops the seven were innocent.

“They told our villager leader that they’d release those seven people after they cleaned the burned down truck off the highway,” said La Lat.

Fighting has been ongoing in northern Shan State between the Tatmadaw and an alliance of three ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) for 15 days as of Friday.

Before the burning of the truck and several other vehicles in the area, the alliance of EAOs had issued warnings advising locals not to travel or drive on highways where the fighting was most intense. They told civilians and journalists that planned to travel anyway to learn about the situation on the ground before arriving.

Also on Friday morning, a passenger bus traveling from Muse, a motorbike and a light truck were burned to varying degrees in Kutkai Township, locals told The Irrawaddy. It is unknown who is responsible.

Representatives from the Ta’aung National Liberation Army, the alliance’s most active EAO in the area, were unavailable for comment.