Thursday, February 19, 2009

Soldiers loot trucks at gun point

(KNG) - In a daring armed robbery unidentified soldiers stopped over 30 goods trucks at gunpoint between Kutkai and Nam Hpak Ka towns in northeastern Shan state on the Mandalay-Muse border trade route, Burma's largest China border trade route on February 10 and looted an estimated 20 million Kyat (US $19,802), said local sources.

According to a resident of Kutkai, the soldiers turned robbers pulled off the daring act between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Burma Standard Time. They set off bombs and exploded three trucks injuring five people who were hospitalized in a public hospital in Muse.

The troops stopped all vehicles at gunpoint on the road. They demanded money only from container trucks with 18-wheels and 12-wheels one after another, said sources close to truck drivers who were robbed.

During the looting, some soldiers quickly demanded money from the trucks while some soldiers took up position to fight back soldiers of Burma's ruling junta should they appear on the scene, the sources close to trucks' drivers added.

A truck driver who witnessed the armed robbery said, over 70 soldiers were involved and they wore camouflage BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) and camouflage caps but it had no label. The robbers used China-made M-22 and Russian-made AK-47 automatic weapons, added eye witnesses.

Until now, no armed group has owned up responsibility and the Burmese Army is also yet to identify who organised and took part in such a daring robbery, Muse residents said.

On the Mandalay-Muse route, Burmese military authorities also frequently stop trucks calling it "supply check" and demand money from container trucks, according to truck drivers.

In the areas between Nam Hpak Ka and Kutkai, the two local ethnic ceasefire groups--- the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N) and Kachin Independence Army (KIA) operate, said residents of Kutkai and Muse.

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