According to an eyewitness, soldiers began extorting “road fees” from September 5th in some local villages including Lower Thayetchaung.
“My mother was arrested without reason while passing along that rural road. The individuals who apprehended her claimed to be PDFs, and demanded 30O million kyats for her release, which has now been reduced to 150 million kyats. My sister is negotiating, offering 5 million kyats, but no agreement has been reached thus far. Their extortion is unprecedented, and we’ve never heard of any PDF groups engaging in such behavior. Currently the two motorists who were with her have been released, but my mother remains in custody, causing us great concern. These armed bandits have established road checkpoints in that area, targeting and extorting money from anyone who passes through”, she told KIC.
Junta troops have established a checkpoint in front of the Thayetchaung Township Police Station, openly demanding money from every passing vehicle daily starting at 6:00 am, resulting in significant time delays and traffic congestion, she added.
An information officer for PDF-Tanintharyi Region has advised local communities to minimize their presence in areas where the Military Council is conducting extortion and arbitrary arrests.
“We are now receiving reports of widespread extortion by individuals impersonating PDFs throughout the region. As a result, we strongly encourage the public to exercise vigilance and caution while traveling, and to prioritize their own safety”, he urged.
In a similar incident, witnesses reported that at two checkpoints in Palaw Township within the Tanintharyi Region, regime soldiers disguised as PDF members and dressed in civilian clothing, are conducting thorough inspections and extorting money from travelers.