A six-year-old girl was killed and five villagers wounded by a landmine in U Mu Ta village, Hlaingbwe Township, two kilometers away from the Thai Burma border on Sunday May 25. The injured villagers are now in a Thai Hospital.
According to sources from the Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW), an organization that provides primary healthcare in the area, four of the five wounded villagers are in a serious condition.
Padoh Eh K’lu Shwe Oo, head of the KDHW described the condition of the wounded villagers to Karen News.
“One of the wounded villagers lost his left eye, another villager lost both hands, the other two got seriously injured on their chests only one more of the villagers had minor injuries.”
According to sources from KDHW, the injured villagers told them that the incident happened after one of the villagers found an old landmine near his farm, dug it out and brought it back to his farm hut. When he got to his hut, some of his neighbors surrounded to check out the old landmine. After the men who found the mine hit it with a machete the mine exploded.
The landmine exploded at Ipm on Sunday, 25th May and the injured were taken to Thailand’s Tha Song Yang Hospital, at 3pm. The injured were transferred to Mae Sot Hospital the next day.
The young girl who died from the landmine explosion was identified as Naw Ma De and the other five injured villagers were Saw Jo Pya, 42, who lost his left eye, Saw Dhi He, aged 12, injured in his chest, Saw Pa Be, 28, lost his both hands, Saw Pa Ho, 25 seriously injured in the chest and Saw Jo Kri, 28, had minor injuries to his body.
At the time of writing, the exact type of landmine has yet to be identified and community leaders speculate that it was either a factory made landmine or an unexploded mortar shell.
The area of the incident was heavily attacked by the joint forces of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and the Burma Army between 2009 and 2010 that resulted in the displacement of over 30,000 civilians and caused destruction to Ler Per Her, an Internally Displaced People’s temporary camp located on the banks of the Moei River.
In April 2014 Karen News reported statistics from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Landmine Monitor, that landmines killed at least 319 people in Burma since 1999.
Moser-Puangsuwan, senior researcher the International Campaign to Ban Landmines in an interview with Karen News of this April explained that mine clearance is the only lasting solution to the [landmine] problem, although mine risk education and landmine marking can work as a “stop gap” [measure].
“A first step towards a number of things will be mine clearance, and mine clearance is both a costly and time consuming activity, so the sooner it begins, the better, as far as we are concerned,” Moser-Puangsuwan said. “Nobody should believe that if you do mine risk education in a village you’re eliminating the mine threat. The only way you eliminate the mine threat is by eliminating the mines.” (See https://karennews.org/2014/04/a-long-wars-lingering-reminder.html/ for the full story).