Military intelligence official kidnapped

Nov 9, 2009 (DVB), Armed men in Burma's northeastern Shan state have kidnapped an official from the government's Military Affairs Security unit, locals said last week.

Another man accompanying Sergeant Myint Zaw was killed by the assailants, who are yet to be identified.

The incident happened on Friday near to Mong Nwang township in southern Shan state. The men were seen carrying firearms, a resident of the town said.

Myint Zaw had been visiting the nearby Wan Sein village with his civilian friend Aung Ko Oo. The two men were returning to Mong Nwang on a motorbike when Aung Ko Oo was shot and killed.

Myint Zaw was abducted and his possessions, including his motorbike and a gun he was carrying, were also taken.

Locals said the government military troops have blocked exit points from the area and are searching for the abductors. A source close to the Military Affairs Security (MAS) in Mong Nwang said that the motivation for the incident was not known.

The MAS was formed in 2004 from the ashes of the previous Ministry of Military Affairs, which was abolished following the sacking of its head, Lieutenant General Tin Hla, in 2001.

MAS also took the place of the Director of Defense Service Intelligence (DDSI), which fell during the purge of former prime minister General Khin Nyunt in 2004.

A number of small-scale armed groups operate in the volatile Shan state alongside larger groups such as the 30,000-strong ceasefire United Wa State Army (UWSA).

Many are seeking leverage in the region's multi-million dollar drugs trade, which is largely controlled by the UWSA.

In August Shan state became the scene of heavy fighting between an ethnic Kokang army and Burmese troops which forced some 37,000 civilians across the border into China.

Since the fighting, the Burmese army has stepped up its presence in the region, which has traditionally been regarded as being beyond the administrative reach of the Burmese government.

Reporting by DVB

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