Monk's body taken by armed group

Apr 2, 2008 (DVB), The body of revered monk U Winiya was stolen from its coffin at a monastery on Tharmanya Hill last night by a group of armed men, a member of staff at the monastery said.

U Winiya's body has been on display in a glass coffin at the monastery since his death, and Buddhists have come from across Burma to pay their respects to the monk.

A staff member at the monastery said the body had been taken during the night by an unknown armed group.

"At around midnight last night, about 10 armed men in combat uniforms came in with three trucks and took the body of the monk U Winiya out of its coffin," she said.

"There were two members of staff at the shrine at the time, but they were told at gun point to lie face down, so no one got a clear look at [the men’s] faces."

The staff member said the hill is now being guarded by soldiers and police officers who are also conducting an investigation into the case.

According to AFP reporting quoting a local official, there have been rumours that the body was taken by members of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army.

"We are still investigating the case. We heard members of the DKBA took it. But they have no right to do so," the official said.

U Winiya, the former Sayadaw [abbot] of Tharmanya Hill monastery, died four years ago at the age of 93.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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