Teenager killed in Mindat landmine explosion

A 13-year-old ethnic Chin boy was killed in a landmine explosion on Thursday afternoon near the village of Shet in Mindat Township, Chin State, according to the local administration team formed by civilians resisting military rule.

The mine blast occurred while Salai Shae Om and his family were walking to a farm in the area. He suffered multiple injuries including the loss of an arm, and died at the scene, said the spokesperson from the Mindat People’s Administration Team.

The Mindat People’s Administration Team is a local administrative group formed in February after the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) urged people across the country to set up interim township governance mechanisms following the military coup. 

The administrative team’s spokesperson speculated that the landmine that killed Salai Shae Om was set up by the regime’s army, since the local resistance group active in the area—the Chinland Defence Force (CDF)—has been known to use a different variety of remote-controlled mines. 

Myanmar Now was unable to verify claims about which group may have planted the device. 

The military council’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment regarding the landmine allegations in Mindat. 

The village of Shet in northern Mindat was the site of several reported clashes between the CDF and the regime’s armed forces in early June. The CDF was formed in early April by ethnic Chin people from nine townships in Chin State as well as from areas in neighbouring regions.

Locals in Mindat had previously expressed concern that landmines would be present in villages where fighting between the CDF and junta had occurred. 

The local administration team’s spokesperson said landmines could have been planted by the military in an area stretching from from Shwe Aung Thar—on the border between Chin State and Magwe Region—to the villages of Vawmm’Tu, Vakauk and Htin Chaung in Mindat Township, as well as around Shet.

“Our side did not plant any mines. If we did, we disarmed them once we left the area,” the spokesperson said, referring to the CDF.

He added that in late May, two other people were killed by junta landmines near the village of Bukun, around 16km from Mindat, following clashes between the military and the local resistance group.

Mindat has been an epicenter of such clashes since late April. Tens of thousands of residents fled to nearby villages and forests to seek refuge from the fighting and to escape the military’s occupation of the town in mid-May, when the junta placed the township under martial law. 

Many Mindat locals who had fled the fighting returned home after a two-week ceasefire was agreed between the regime military and the CDF on Wednesday. The agreement is valid until July 4. 

According to a report by the Switzerland-based Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor published in December 2020, there were an estimated 1,900 people maimed or killed in landmine explosions in Myanmar between 2010 and 2019. In 2019 alone, a total of 89 people were confirmed to have been killed by landmines and more than 260 were injured. 

More than 90 percent of landmine casualties and injuries were in Kachin, Karen, Rakhine, and Shan states and eastern Bago Region, which are among the areas where the Myanmar military has been waging a civil war for decades.  

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