Two Killed in Mine Blast in Northern Shan State

By Lawi Weng 15 December 2016

RANGOON — A Burma Army captain and a civilian truck driver were killed on Wednesday in a mine blast in northern Shan State’s Hsenwi Township, according to local sources.

Under condition of anonymity, a police officer told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that three simultaneous explosions killed the two individuals at around 6 p.m. He speculated that the mines had been placed on the road by ethnic armed groups and were intended to target army vehicles traveling on the main highway between Hsenwi and Muse Townships.

“One was a truck driver who drove from Muse and he was 31 years old. The other one was a captain from Infantry Battalion 240,” the police officer said of the victims. Although they were killed in the same blast, the two were not traveling together—the captain was driving a motorbike.

“It was a rope mine. They drew it for blast,” he explained, describing the trigger for the explosion. “There were army trucks traveling on the road. But, we do not know whether the mine blasts also hit any army trucks.”

A statement from the Ministry of Defense accused the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)—two of the four members of the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed groups—of planting the mines. The coalition began an offensive against the Burma Army in the region on November 20; fighting has continued since then.

TNLA spokesperson Tar Aike Kyaw told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that he had received no report on the incident from his counterparts in Hsenwi, but added that at least one clash breaks out every day in northern Shan State.

“The fighting has been ongoing. But we have not gotten a report yet from the ground about any casualties. The Burma Army used its air force to fight,” the TNLA spokesperson said.

The Burma Army reportedly used two air force planes on Thursday morning to assist ground forces in a clash on Hong Kaung mountain, between Kutkai and Muse townships.

“We still keep going, together with our joint force. We have not revoked our offensive yet,” Tar Aike Kyaw said.