Mon State — At least three people were killed by landmines in northern Shan State last month, according to a local resident and an aid group, amid ongoing fighting in the area between the Myanmar Army and ethnic armed groups.
A man and woman from Kyaukme Township were killed on June 20 when their motorbike hit a mine in a conflict area, according to a resident.
Some locals in Kyaukme believe the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) planted the mine after it heard that the Myanmar Army was heading that way, but the pair ran over the mine before any soldiers arrived.
“The TNLA already warned locals not to travel in the area. But those two were not from the area, so they did not know about it,” said Mai Yan Naing, a township resident.
In another incident, Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian aid group, reported that a 65-year-old man in Kutkai Township was killed when he stepped on a mine while foraging for mushrooms on June 17.
The Myanmar Red Cross reported that 95 people were killed and 106 were wounded by landmines between 2014 and 2018.
The Myanmar Army usually blames ethnic armed groups for laying the mines, mainly the TNLA and Kachin Independence Army (KIA), while the armed groups tend to blame the army or each other. The KIA has accused the army of planting many mines in Kachin State’s Tanai and Injangyang townships recently while withdrawing their troops.
“They withdrew from some amber and gold mining areas, but they did not withdraw from all of their bases. They continue to be based in some important areas,” Colonel Naw Bu, a spokesman for the KIA, told The Irrawaddy.
The KIA says its fighters recently defused about 80 landmines in Injangyang, in northern Kachin.
“The Tatmadaw [Myanmar Army] planted those landmines,” Col. Naw Bu said.
The colonel said the army had also planted many mines in areas the KIA claims in Tanai, but he did not know how many of those the KIA had defused to date.
Col Naw Bu said KIA and army mines were easy to distinguish because the KIA’s mines were improvised and the army’s were factory-made.
Free Burma Ranger also reported that four civilians were killed and four were wounded by mines in Kachin since April. It accused the army of laying the mines.