A woman and a girl endured injuries after stepping on a landmine in the forest in Mong Peng Township, eastern Shan State, while gathering food.
Nang Saw Hla, age 15, had minor injuries, but 32-year-old Nang Nyunt was more seriously affected. Last week, the victims were transferred to Kengtung public hospital, after receiving treatment locally from August 11-12.
Sai Soe Mueng, an information officer at the liaison office for the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) in Kengtung, spoke to SHAN after visiting Nang Saw Hla and Nang Nyunt in Kengtung hospital.
“They went to seek mushrooms between their village and the Burma Army’s camp. It’s about one hour away from Swam Tawng village by foot,” Sai Soe Mueng said, referring to the village where the women came from. “Villagers found mushrooms there every year. They have never stepped on a landmine there before, but the two Shan women stepped on landmine there this year.”
Sai Soe Mueng said it was “difficult to say” which armed group planted the landmine, but confirmed that it did not belong to RCSS.
“There is no evidence to prove who planted it. The Burma Army built that camp in the area in the last year,” he told SHAN.
The Burma Army, military-backed People’s Militia Forces (PMFs) and the RCSS are all active in Mong Peng.
Representatives from the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) said that locals in eastern Shan State thought there would be less conflict in the area after the RCSS signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the government and military in 2015. One of their continued fears is stepping on a landmine.
“It’s really difficult for local people to look for vegetables in jungle. They are scared. They expected peace to be restored in their area after the signing of the NCA by RCSS. Now they are in shock after their villagers got landmine injuries,” Sai Hor Hseng, who works with SHRF, told SHAN.
He added that the respective authorities should investigate who planted the landmine and review the peace process, and how the explosion could be a violation of it.