Twenty-three landmines have been discovered, planted near the temple compound where a blast occurred on Monday, causing serious injury to eight novice monks.
“After the bomb blast that wounded eight novice monks, the following day local authorities and community leaders went to the area and uncovered more than twenty mines near the temple,” Nang Kham Phong, a local aid worker in Namtu, told Shan Herald on Thursday.
“The mines were buried east of Zeya Sukha Temple in Mong Yen Tract, Namtu Township,” said Nang Kham Phong. “They have now been moved to the local military office.”
Many years ago, the Burma military set up positions in this village. When they withdrew from the area the villagers reclaimed their lands.
According to an official from the local administration, authorities suspect there could be many more devices planted in and around Mong Yen. He said that that the landmines may have been planted in a line, but otherwise they had no idea how to locate them. He said that the local administration could not be the ones to take responsibility for this.
Burma was ranked third most dangerous country in the world for landmines in 2014 behind only Colombia and Afghanistan, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, a research and monitoring arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
A report from the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor published in November 2016 reads: “In September 2016, Deputy Minister of Defense Maj-Gen Myint Nwe informed the Myanmar parliament that the army continues to use landmines in internal armed conflict. At the same session, a Member of Parliament from Shan State stated that ‘it can’t be denied that non-state armed groups are also using landmines…particularly since 2012.’”
Landmine explosions are regularly reported across Shan State. On July 7, 2015, Shan Herald reported that a 70-year-old woman was killed after stepping on a landmine near a Burmese military compound in northern Shan State’s Hsenwi Township.
Another case occurred in northern Shan State’s Hsipaw Township on July 22 last year, when a villager and his eight-year-old daughter were seriously injured by a landmine explosion when they went into a forest to cut firewood.
According to an ICBL report in November 2015, 396 people had been killed, 3,145 injured, and 204 affected in an unknown extent by landmines in Burma since 1999. However, the report noted that the real figure could be much higher.
By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)
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