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Two children injured by landmine blast in Myanmar

The Kachin Independence Army (Brookings Institution/Released)
February 06, 2024

This article was originally published by Radio Free Asia and is reprinted with permission.

Two minors are in critical condition after stepping on a landmine, residents told Radio Free Asia on Monday. 

The two were injured on Sunday while helping their families measure land they planned to sell, a resident said, declining to be named for fear of reprisals. The landmine was planted near Mindat-based junta Battalion 274 in southern Chin state. 

“They live at the bottom of the Mee Thet Kone hill,” he said. “The girl stepped on a mine planted by the junta and lost one of her feet. The boy who came along with the girl was hit on his back by shrapnel.”

The boy is 12 years old and the girl is 14, but neither could be named for security reasons, residents said. The children are receiving medical treatment at military Battalion 274 in Mindat city.

Locals claimed the landmine was planted by junta forces, but RFA could not independently confirm this. RFA contacted Chin state’s junta spokesperson Aung Cho for comment on the incident, but did not receive an answer by the time of publication.

Landmines have become an increasing problem in Chin state following the coup, especially for villagers performing agricultural tasks. Residents told RFA these blasts were never a problem before the military took power in 2021. 

Both the junta and resistance groups have denied planting landmines that could harm villagers, with the junta telling RFA that “the military does not bury landmines in areas where civilians live.” 

The Chin National Front spokesperson similarly claimed that its landmines are removed once fighting has ended, and that “there has never been any civilian hurt because of us.”

On Jan. 26, a man from Chin state’s Taingen village in Tedim township stepped on a landmine while looking for his cattle, locals said. He later needed his leg amputated. 

In January alone, landmines in northern Myanmar killed one and injured 22, according to locals who said they could not determine which group planted them. People living in over half of Myanmar’s 330 townships are at risk of injury or death from landmines, according to a December report from the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor.