2 Child Victims of Mine Explosion in ‘Contaminated’ Shan State

By Lawi Weng 29 April 2019

Two children were killed and eight others wounded in a bomb blast in Mong Pan Village, Namkhan Township in northern Shan State on Friday, according to local sources.

A two-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy were the victims of a bomb blast which occurred at 6:30 p.m. according to members of the Ta’ang Students and Youth Union (TSYU), an organization which provided assistance to the families affected and transported them to the hospital in Namkham.

“After we heard the bomb blast, people saw two children had died on the spot and another eight were wounded,” Lway Hlar Reang, TSYU’s secretary, told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

She said that the eight children suffered injuries to their bodies, including to their heads, torsos, feet, and fingers.

According to TSYU, the six boys and two girls who received injuries were under the age of eight years old and were playing together in the village after returning from the fields with their families.

TSYU said though the area has been largely peaceful in recent years, there was an outbreak of fighting between government and TNLA troops there last year and that an unexploded device may have been left near the village during the skirmish.

“They (the TNLA and Myanmar Army) did not fight in the village, but they both were based outside the village while they fought each other,” said Lway Hlar Reng.

The children often played in the area at a pile of used car tires in front of a house in the village, but the families of the victims said a bomb had never exploded there before.

Landmines and other explosive devices often detonate in the areas which have seen armed conflict between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups in northern Shan State, often resulting in injuries and deaths among innocent local civilians.

On International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action which fell on April 4, UNICEF reported that landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) from decades of armed conflict across Myanmar continue to threaten the lives of children and their families every day in nine out the 14 states and regions which are known to be “contaminated.”

The report shows that in 2016 and 2017 combined, 337 casualties were reported, with conflict-stricken States such as Kachin and Shan topping the list. Out of every four casualties, at least one child was injured, and one in four accidents resulted in death.

“Even though we know that many incidents still go unreported, every second day an accident caused by a landmine happens in Myanmar. Sadly, children and women bear the brunt,” said June Kunugi, UNICEF’s representative to Myanmar, noting that 43% of those harmed in 2017 alone were women and children.