Myanmar Junta Accused of Targeting Civilians with Landmines

By The Irrawaddy 29 September 2021

Myanmar’s junta is laying landmines in residential areas while it conducts raids on civilian resistance forces in Kayah State.

On Wednesday morning, a displaced civilian in Demoso Township, Kayah State, was killed by a landmine in Kone Thar village while returning home with two others to fetch food, according to the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF).

The other two villagers were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

On Tuesday evening, another displaced civilian in the township was seriously injured after stepping on a mine in Thay Su Le village while returning for food.

Junta forces raided the Demoso Township villages last Thursday. A KNDF spokesman told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that military forces planted landmines in the villages.

Despite being reinforced and using heavy weapons and explosives, the regime forces were forced to retreat from the villages on Sunday after two days of attacks by Karenni armed groups.

The KNDF spokesman said they defused around 30 junta landmines and unexploded artillery shells in the villages.

“They are leaving their landmines. They don’t care that civilians could be killed,” he said.

He said that anti-regime forces remove unexploded explosives after attempted ambushes in the state.

Karenni armed groups urged villagers to be aware of the dangers of junta landmines when returning home.

Since late May, regime forces have been clashing with the Karenni resistance groups in Bawlakhe, Demoso, Hpruso and Loikaw townships in Kayah State and Moebye, Pekon and Pinlaung townships in neighboring Shan State.

The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar, an independent group of prominent former United Nations human rights observers, said Myanmar’s junta had committed public torture and executions while seeking to return the country to full military rule.

It said junta forces planted landmines under the bodies of civilians they had killed in an attempt to target the victims’ families and friends.

On Monday the group urged the UN Security Council to declare the junta a “terrorist organization” for atrocities against its civilians, including public torture, executions and taking hostages as young as two.

The regime has also used landmines in Chin State.

Ethnically Chin Salai Shae Om, 13, was killed by a junta landmine near a village in northern Mindat Township in Chin State on June 24 while going to farm with his family after a series of firefights between junta troops and Chin resistance forces.

Since Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government declared a people’s war against the junta on Sept. 1, the military regime has escalated its raids and acts of violence, including burning down and bombarding residential areas, especially in Sagaing and Magwe regions and Chin and Kayah states.

Meanwhile, the People’s Defense Forces across Myanmar have stepped up operations against junta troops.

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