Travelers released by armed group

July 5th, 2011

IMNA-Travelers from two highway buses that were destroyed by an unknown armed group in southern Thanphyuzayart Township of Mon State were released on 2 July after being detained since 29 June.

“All travelers have been released. One staff member from Shweli Yadana arrived at Mergui town”, said a source close to Shweli Yadana Bus Company.

Highway bus from Rangoon to Tavoy

About ten people, including two from the staff of the bus company, one captain from the army, security personnel, and civilian servants, were taken on 29 June around noon after the buses were burned by an unknown armed group, according to a witness. The witness does not know where the ten people from the Yar Zar Min and Shweli Yadana companies were taken.

According to the witness from the Shweli Yadana bus, “They stopped the bus and let the travelers go. And then they burnt the bus after shooting the bus with guns.” Two buses were burnt near a bridge in Yar Thar Aye village at Moulmein-Ye highway road.

Yar Zar Min’s bus was valued at 140 million kyat, while the bus belonging to Shweli Yadana was valued 30 million kyat, according to a source from Yar Zar Min.

A traveler from the Yar Zar Min bus said, “They [members of the unknown armed group] wore their uniforms with logos. They spoke Karen language with themselves, but Burmese language with us.”

The armed group warned the travelers not to ride buses belonging to Yar Zar Min or Shweli Yadana again after they burnt buses. While the buses burned, they stopped about 30 vehicles.

The armed group burnt these two highway buses because the companies failed to pay the yearly extortion fee to them, said a Shweli Yadana staff member. Each bus company was asked for 1 million kyat.

Since the burning of the buses, travelers fear to travel on the road from Moulmein to Ye Township because of increased security risks.

Sources said that this is the first time vehicles have been burnt by the armed group. Travelers did not expect the armed group to completely destroy the buses.

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