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Two local Kachin clergymen from Mongko who disappeared in mysterious circumstances just before Christmas are still missing.
Baptist priests Dom Dawng Nawng Latt and La Jaw Gam Hseng were last seen on 24 December and no information has yet surfaced which would offer any clues, said Muse district administration officer Zaw Min.
“I think someone, for some reason, took them away for questioning,” he told DVB. “But we don’t know which organisation. Local parishioners said they suddenly disappeared on 24 December. We don’t know any more than that.”
Fellow Mongko priest Zau Ra said, “We would not worry so much if we knew something about the circumstances, but this mysterious disappearance is very worrying. We have reached out to the [Burmese army] regional commander and local battalion commander, and also made inquiries with returning IDPs [internally displaced persons].”
The missing clergymen had been assisting reporters, including a DVB TV team, during fierce fighting in Mongko. The pair were thought to have visited a strategic hill-post commandeered by the Burmese army on the day they were last seen.
Firefights and intense clashes had been going on between government forces and Northern Alliance rebels since November 20 in and around Muse, Mongko and other towns near the Chinese border in northern Shan State.
Tens of thousands of local residents fled their homes during the conflict, with many seeking refuge on the Chinese side of the border.
On 4 December, the Burmese army retook the town of Mongko from the Northern Alliance, which is a coalition of four ethnic militias: the Kachin Independence Army; Ta’ang National Liberation Army; Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army; and Arakan Army.
Correction: This story has been amended to reflect the fact that the missing priests were Baptists, not Catholics, as previously reported.