Mother and son killed in explosion in Tanintharyi

A 28-year-old woman and her six-year-old son died after an explosive device went off near her home in a village in Tanintharyi Region’s Palaw Township on Sunday evening. 

The blast occurred in Pawut Phyar village at around 5:30pm, around five metres from Naw Mu Naw’s—the victim’s—home. She was also pregnant, according to local sources. 

Naw Mu Naw was killed immediately, and her son, Saw Lay Lay, succumbed to his injuries a half hour after the explosion, according to a villager who was at the scene moments after the blast. 

“Although there was little hope for his survival, we decided to send the child to the hospital as he was still breathing. However, he died as soon as he arrived there,” the local man said.

A video taken at the scene following the blast and seen by Myanmar Now indicated that Saw Lay Lay had suffered multiple injuries to both legs, his left arm and his chest and face. Naw Mu Naw appeared to be bleeding from her abdomen, pelvis and chest. 

Locals have blamed the Myanmar army for setting off the explosive device, which they speculated was done in retribution for a recent clash between the military and anti-junta defence forces near Pawut Phyar. Following the battle, some five homes from the village were also torched, with residents saying junta soldiers—around 30 of whom had been occupying a monastery near the village since early January—set the fires in question. 

“The military didn’t come to check on the casualties and damage [after the explosion on Sunday],” the villager who was at the scene of the blast said. “I’m sure they know this was their fault. I think they did it on purpose.”

The villager added that the soldiers stationed in the monastery typically scouted the area around Pawut Phyar late at night and in the early hours of the morning. 

“I don’t know if they are looking for the enemy or what,” he said

Another villager told Myanmar Now that the military had been targeting civilians, and that while the anti-junta guerrilla forces such as the People’s Defence Force (PDF) have been known to use explosives, they did not do so in areas like the one that went off on Sunday. 

“The PDF in this area does not set up explosive devices near the villages. They only set them up on the paths the junta forces are using,” she explained. 

The bodies of 28-year-old Naw Mu Naw and her six-year-old son, Saw Lay Lay, are seen near the detonation site (Supplied)

Pawut Phyar’s 250 households are predominantly ethnic Karen, and the village is located within territory controlled by the Karen National Liberation Army’s Brigade 4, but is also just six miles from a base of the Myanmar Army’s Light Infantry Battalion 285. 

Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify the allegations, and contacted the Palaw Township central police station regarding the villagers’ claims. The officer on duty refused to comment. 

The military council has not released a statement on the incident. 

The Palaw Township PDF published a statement on Sunday evening saying that the explosive that was detonated in Pawut Phyar was an anti-personnel landmine which was set up by the military.

A spokesperson for the group said that two junta officers and five soldiers were killed when the PDF attacked their forces with explosives near Pa Wut Phyar on January 8. 

The Thanlwin Times, a news outlet based in Mon State, claimed on Saturday that a total of 950 people had been arrested and 69 people killed in neighbouring Tanintharyi Region in the year since the February 2021 coup. 

The article said that around 4,000 people from six townships in the region had been displaced by violence. 

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