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Questions raised over reported Kokang kidnapping

File photo of members of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (Photo: DVB)

The Burmese military-run Myawady Daily has reported that the Kokang ethnic armed group Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) abducted five workers from a hydropower plant in Laogai, the capital of the Kokang region in northern Shan State.

The report said that some 15 MNDAA members on 8 October entered the Shauk Kai (also known as Yin Pang Hto) hydropower plant about two miles outside of Laogai township at around 8pm and abducted five staff, all young males. The group did not detain two elderly staffers who were reportedly in poor health, according to the report.

However, Laogai-based Kokang Democratic Party Chairman Anthony Su insisted that the Kokang armed group, effectively weakened by Burmese army offences since the 2015 Kokang offensive, possibly do not have the resources to carry out such an operation. He speculated that the Burmese military may be creating a ‘false flag’ as a pretence for waging another offensive on the remnants of the Kokang rebels.

“I live in Laogai and did not hear anything about the incident. The hydropower station in question has been closed for a long time,” said Anthony Su.

“When we hear gunfire in the Kokang region, it is more likely that it is from the Tatmadaw [Burmese armed forces]. The MNDAA has been effectively crippled to the point they cannot afford to pull off an operation like that.

“The Tatmadaw is known for creating farces like this to use as an excuse when they plan to attack ethnic areas.”

The Myawady report said the Tatmadaw is currently conducting an operation to rescue the abducted workers.