Mortar Blast Hits Two Civilians in Myanmar’s Shan State

By Lawi Weng 8 October 2019

One person was killed and another one was wounded by a mortar blast Tuesday in northern Shan State’s Kyaukme Township.

Six people were clearing bushes on a tea plantation when the mortar exploded and struck two of them, according to Lway Chee Sangar, a member of the Ta’ang Women’s Organization (TWO).

“While they were clearing the tea plantation, there was an explosion,” she said.

Mai Zar Aye, 40, was killed instantly and Mai Pang San, 30, was seriously wounded in his mouth, heart, legs and stomach and is being treated at the hospital in Kyaukme Town, according to a report from TWO. Both victims are from Taung Palu Village.

Lway Chee Sangar said that Mai Zar Aye hit the mortar with his knife while he was working.

TWO reported that the mortar may have been fired but failed to explode during fighting in the area last month between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Myanmar army.

“We are not sure whether the mortar was fired during the fighting or just left at the plantation,” said Lway Chee Sangar.

In recent months, fighting has broken out frequently in the Kyaukme area between the Myanmar army and the TNLA, as well as between the TNLA and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS).

Local residents have often reported injuries from landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) while working in their tea plantations.

Mai Yan Naing, a member of the Ta’ang National Party from Kyaukme Town, said that local people have been hurt by landmines almost every month.

Northern Shan State is a high-risk area for landmines, according to the Halo Trust, a UK-based non-governmental organization that helps landmine victims in Kachin, Shan and Karen states.

In 2018, of the 276 victims of landmine blasts nationwide, 123 were involved in incidents in Shan State, 25 of them fatal.

The Halo Trust told The Irrawaddy in May that this year, 95 percent of landmine victims have been in northern Shan State.

Most of the landmine explosions reported in the area have been in Namtu, Hsipaw, Kyaukme, Lashio and Namsan townships.

Both the Myanmar army and ethnic armed groups are known to use landmines, though all groups routinely deny responsibility when civilians are killed or wounded.

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