SITTWE, Rakhine State—Four Rohingya children were killed and six others were injured in a mine explosion in Rakhine State’s Buthidaung Township on Tuesday. The Myanmar military has claimed that the mine was planted by the Arakan Army (AA) ethnic armed group.
The explosion occurred after local residents of Hteik Htoo Pauk, a village in Buthidaung’s Kyauk Yant Village-Tract, stepped on a mine while collecting firewood on a hill in the east of the village, said a local villager who asked to remain anonymous.
“The hill where the explosion occurred is not far from the village. [Victims] said that the mine exploded while they were bundling together the wood that they had cut,” he told The Irrawaddy.
According to him, the hill is just a five-minute walk from the village.
“The villagers reported a mine explosion to me. Two children died on the spot and two others died on the way to the hospital. The six people who were injured are at the hospital,” Lower House lawmaker U Aung Thaung Shwe of Buthidaung Township told The Irrawaddy.
Myanmar military troops used to be stationed on the hill where the mine explosion occurred, according to local residents.
“They moved from there to the hill in the north of the village one month ago. [The military officials] visited the victims after the explosion,” said a community elder of Hteik Htoo Pauk Village who asked not to be named.
When asked by The Irrawaddy, Myanmar military spokesman Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun said the mine was planted by the AA.
“The AA always launched attacks from there. They launched three attacks in December alone. After they carry out sneak attacks on security outposts, they plant mines as they retreat. Those mines are to target the military troops who pursue them,” he told The Irrawaddy.
The Myanmar military and the AA have been fighting in and around Kyauk Yant in Buthidaung Township for months.
Three of the six injured in the mine blast are receiving treatment at Buthidaung Township Hospital and three others have been transferred to Maungdaw Township Hospital with serious injuries.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko
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