Armed Mon group calls on army to return abducted members

Armed Mon group calls on army to return abducted members

The New Mon State Party (NSMP) is calling on the government to release two of its members who were captured by the Burmese military after clashes erupted in southern Burma’s Tenasserim division last week.

According to the NMSP, the group’s members Nai Aung Htun and his wife Ma Cho were abducted by troops from the Burmese army’s 581st Light Infantry Battalion in Tenasserim’s Bokpyin township following an unprovoked attack targeting the rebel’s outpost in Thumingalan village on 16 July.

Two NMSP members and one Burmese solider were reportedly killed during the skirmish.

Nai Ong Seik Chan, a lieutenant colonel in the NMSP, said the Burmese military has admitted to mistakenly attacking their outpost after troops assumed that the position belonged to another Mon armed group, the Hanthawaddy Restoration Party.

Despite the admission, the government has yet to respond to the NMSP’s request to release its members.

“On the evening of 17 July, we contacted the [army] but so far there has been no response, but we are trying to reach out to the regional military command through our liaison office to clear up the misunderstanding,” said Nai Ong Seik Chan, adding that the government troops were still holding positions in the area surrounding their outpost.

The NMSP, which signed a truce with Naypyidaw in February 2012, also urged the government to refrain from attacking ceasefire groups or arresting their members.

During a speech in London last week, President Thein Sein described Burma’s ongoing civil wars as complex, but insisted that his government aimed to a declare a country-wide ceasefire soon.

“Very possibly, over the coming weeks, we will have a nation-wide ceasefire and the guns will go silent everywhere in Myanmar (Burma) for the very first time in over sixty years,” said Thein Sein.

However, the president noted that such a deal would “only [be] the first step towards the just and lasting peace” in Burma.

Since Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government came into power in 2011, Naypyidaw has succeeded in inking ceasefire agreements with ten of the country’s eleven major armed groups.

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