Seven Injured in Rakhine State Landmine Blasts, Including Three Children

Monday, January 13, 2020

Seven villagers, including three children, were injured in two landmine blasts in Kyauktaw and Mrauk-U townships in Rakhine State last week, locals told NMG.

On Saturday, a landmine exploded in Yoktha village in Kyauktaw at around 6:00 a.m., injuring a woman and two 10-year-old boys.

“The woman is 65 years old. They are a grandma and her grandchildren,” a Kyauktaw local said, adding that the victims received treatment at the township’s public hospital.

People in downtown Kyauktaw said that they heard the landmine blast three miles away. A Burma Army military column had patrolled the area previously, they said.

“I heard that the Burma Army’s troops stayed in Yoktha village. A grandma cleaned up rubbish there and tried to set fire to it. The landmine blasted after she set fire to the rubbish. The grandma and two children were injured in the incident,” Tun Win, a parliamentarian from Kyauktaw Township, told NMG.

Similarly, a landmine blasted in Oak-Hpo-Kan village in Mrauk-U Township on the night of January 9 injured four villagers, including a one-year-old infant. The incident was confirmed by Tun Tha Sein, a parliamentarian for Mrauk-U Township.

The series of explosions in Kyauktaw and Mrauk-U has occurred despite the fact that there have not been clashes between Burma Army and Arakan Army troops in recent days.

Locals have also faced other human rights abuses in Rakhine State due to the armed conflict. Civilians are indiscriminately attacked, and shootings and clashes frequently occur near villages, monasteries and pagodas. Parliamentarians have reported these incidents in the state legislature, but they say that the authorities have taken no action to solve these problems.

“We have already requested [that the armies] not attack civilian targets, not stay in monasteries and pagodas, not fire artillery into villages, not shoot near civilian villages and not to fight near civilian villages. I already reported about it in the 11th Rakhine State parliament meeting. There is no change. The situation is the same old,” Mrauk-U MP Tun Tha Sein told NMG.

Since the government cut off internet access to conflict-affected areas of Rakhine State since June of last year, Kyauktaw MP Tun Win said that government representatives should go and see what life is like for villagers in these communities.

“There is an information blackout in the area. We have to deeply consider the suffering of local people. I think the government needs to observe the actual situation happening on the ground,” Tun Win told NMG. “We are not exaggerating. Many bad things are happening in the area. We don’t know all of the things. We want leaders in this country to know about it. Then they can do something to restore peace in the country.”

Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya and Ponnagyun townships have been without internet since June 1. Local civil society organizations have said that they continue to face great difficulty in getting information to and from the area because of the blackout.