Both RCSS and SSPP blame one another for placing the mine in the area.
The headman of Nam Maw Lon village in northern Shan State’s Hsipaw Township was killed when a landmine exploded in the area, injuring two more men and raising questions as to which armed group had set up the device.
The blast occurred at around 8:00 p.m. as the three men were walking along the road to Nam Maw Sung village on February 16. Headman Lon Ti, age 50, died at the scene. The two others—Lon Kay Ta, 40, and Sai Wezayya, 35—were admitted to the Lashio public hospital for treatment.
“I thought I was going to be killed by the blast. I could not get up off the ground, even though I tried to look for my friends. I felt pain in my legs. I also saw blood on my hands,” Lon Kay Ta told SHAN. “Our village headman told me these words: ‘they will let us die.’”
According to a relative of Lon Ti, he was cremated the following morning in Nam Maw Lon.
Sai Wezayya, who told SHAN that he had been hit in the stomach by “a piece of the landmine,” said that his main concern since he has been injured was for those who depend on him.
“We are the heads of our families. Therefore, we are so worried about their daily survival,” he said.
The area has seen recent fighting between the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA).
On their Tai Freedom website, RCSS blamed SSPP for setting up the landmine in question and alleged that the three men set off the device while traveling to an SSPP army camp.
SSPP spokesperson Maj Phone Harn told SHAN that they did not set up the mine and that RCSS was the responsible party. He suggested the landmine had been placed there during clashes near Ton Keng village, also in Hsipaw Township.
The RCSS and SSPP fought near Ton Keng in December of last year. At that time, more than 300 villagers fled the area. RCSS forces withdrew from the area following the clashes. According to villagers, SSPP troops are still active in the area.
The most recent fighting between the two ethnic Shan armed groups has taken place in nearby Kyaukme Township, where there are nearly 1,000 internally displaced people.