Burma

Soldiers and Civilian Die in Western Myanmar Booby Trap

By Htet Naing Zaw 4 June 2020

Naypyitaw — A civilian and an unknown number of soldiers were killed and injured when the Arakan Army (AA) attacked by using remotely detonated mines to target a patrol outside Ponnagyun Township in northern Rakhine State on Tuesday morning, according to Myanmar’s military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun.

Two mines detonated as the troops arrived at Kinchaung Bridge on the Yangon-Sittwe road, he said.

“Tatmadaw soldiers were walking along the road for security. Two civilians were passing on a motorbike when the blast happened,” the spokesman told The Irrawaddy in reference to Myanmar’s military.

A civilian, 35, was killed and another, 47, was injured, he said. He did not say how many soldiers were killed and injured.

The Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services confirmed that troops were killed and injured.

Previous mine blasts occurred in rural Ponnagyun and not so close to the town, said the township’s Rakhine State lawmaker, U Aung Than Tin.

“The injured civilian was taken to Sittwe. I don’t know who planted the mines,” said U Aung Than Tin.

The Tatmadaw blamed the AA, accusing the armed group of using increasingly powerful mines to cause greater destruction.

“They previously attacked the Rakhine State chief minister’s convoy with remotely detonated mines. The Indian army informed Myanmar’s military and some Indian newspapers have also reported that the AA has received technical assistance in remote technology from technically advanced [forces],” said Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun.

The spokesman claimed that the AA now has the technology to detonate mines by remote control, walkie-talkie and even Wi-Fi. 

The AA is yet to comment although it has claimed responsibility for previous mine attacks.

When a lieutenant colonel and other ranks from Battalion 374 were killed in a mine attack in Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw Township in November last year, the AA claimed responsibility.

Military analyst U Than Soe Naing said the AA has advanced technology because it is backed by another country.

“If it uses remotely detonated mines, the public will suffer more. It is a dangerous situation. The AA can’t produce those mines. They must have been supplied from another country,” said U Than Soe Naing.

He said he was not surprised by the AA’s remote technology as armed groups in northern Myanmar are already using shoulder-launched missiles.

Some unexploded mines detected on the Yangon-Sittwe road are around 30cm wide and deep, suggesting the sizes are increasing, said Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun.

Civilian deaths and injuries are still being caused by landmines in northern Rakhine although neither Myanmar’s military nor the AA have claimed responsibility.

Fifty-eight civilians stepped on landmines in northern Rakhine in 2019, and 19 of them died, according to a mine education group.

Clashes between the two sides have escalated in northern Rakhine and Chin State after the government declared the AA a terrorist group in March.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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