Two Girls Dead after Landmine Blast in Shan State Village

By Nang Seng Nom 17 November 2015

RANGOON — Two young girls, aged 13 and 8, have died after accidentally detonating a landmine near a small village in central Shan State.

The victims died at the bank of the Tein Creek, on the outskirts of Mat Lan village in Laihka Township. According to a third child, who was with the pair and survived the blast unscathed, the girls found what appeared to be a motorbike battery that exploded when they touched it, sending shrapnel through the air and killing both instantly. .

“We’re still investigating to find out which group this mine belongs to,” local police Lieutenant Hsan Lwin told The Irrawaddy. “ The child who survived the blast said it was a small battery. It is unacceptable that innocent children have met their ends like this. I feel sorry that innocent civilians have fallen prey to armed conflicts.”

Laihka Township has historically been under the jurisdiction of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), the political wing of the Shan State Army-South.

Despite signing a fresh bilateral ceasefire with the Burmese government at the end of 2011, the group has been involved in dozens of clashes with the military in the years since, according to the Myanmar Peace Center. The RCSS signed the government’s “nationwide” ceasefire agreement on Oct. 15, along with seven other non-state armed groups.

Immediately to the north of Laihka are Mong Hsu and Kyethi townships, home to fresh clashes between the Burma Armed Forces and the Shan State Army-North, the armed wing of the Shan State Progressive Party (SSPP) since Oct. 6. The SSPP is not party to the government’s latest ceasefire accord.

Local Shan civil society organizations say that more than 10,000 people have been displaced from SSPP territory after six weeks of clashes, some of whom have fled to Laihka.

On Oct. 21, a piece of unexploded ordnance detonated in Mong Hsu town’s 4th ward, claiming the life of a 70-year-old woman and injuring two novice monks and a young girl.

Hsan Lwin said that security has been tightened around Laihka to prevent more bomb blasts.

Lecha Sai Kyaw Zeya, a lawmaker in the Shan State Parliament, told The Irrawaddy that a funeral service for the victims was held on Monday.