A landmine has claimed the life of a villager and seriously injured another in Myanmar’s northern Shan State.
The villagers were collecting firewood at dusk when they stepped on the landmine in Mong Ngor sub-township, in Kyaukme township.
Ah-sam, 28, from Taw Hpae, was killed by the bomb blast. Mai Maung Naing, 20, from Ahpyaung, was rushed to the Kyaukme hospital.
Ahban, from the Oum-ta Mau social team, told SHAN the men were attempting to collect special white wood for an upcoming full moon celebration when the accident happened.
Mai Maung Naing sustained injuries to his bladder and lower leg.
Ahban thinks his condition is stable because he hasn’t been transferred to a larger hospital. “If his injuries have been critical he would have been transferred to a hospital in Lashio or Mandalay.”
Ah-sam is survived by his wife, who is pregnant, and their baby.
According to civil society organizations in Kyaukme, many civilians have been injured by landmines in Mong Ngor sub-township since the start of the year. Two villagers have been killed and ten were injured in 2020.
“Landmines are a serious threat (for civilians) in Kyaukme,” said Sai Than Maung.
There are many armed groups active in the area and they aren’t taking responsibility for the landmines they plant.
“I think Mong Ngor sub-township, in Kyaukme township, has the highest number of landmines in Shan State,” Sai Than Maung said.
“These landmines will continue to cause problems in our area even after the civil war has ended because they have a life of 20 to 30 years unless they are detonated.”
The number of civilians killed or injured by landmines has increased since 2018, said Sai Tun Win, an MP for Kyaukme constituency-1. He wants all of the armed organizations to stop planting them.
“Civilians living in Kyaukme township, and other conflict-affected areas, are constantly worrying about landmines,” he said.
Some groups have started awareness campaigns about the dangers poised by landmines but locals say this won’t change anything if the armed organizations don’t stop using them, and remove the ones already planted.
The Burma Army, Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army and Ta’ang National Liberation Army maintain soldiers in Kyaukme township.