Returning Displaced Mae Tha Wor Villager Loses Lower Leg in Landmine Explosion – Villagers Fear Mines Used by the BGF and DKBA Militias

A displaced villager from the Mae Tha Wor area of Hlaingbwe Township, Karen State stepped on a landmine as he and other villagers returned to their village to check their plantations on January 31.

Saw Ophar Ngah, a villager from Htee Noh Hta village in Mae Tha Wor area had to have his right leg amputated below knee.

Saw Ophar Ngah and friends from the same village have been living in a temporary shelter in Myaing Gyi Ngu since been displaced by fighting in September, 2016 between the breakaway Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army (DKBA) and the government militia, the Border Guard Force (BGF). The conflict forced as many as 6,000 villagers in Mae Tha Wor areas out of their homes and into displaced shelters. Most of the villagers are still unable to return to their villages.

Saw Ophar Ngah and friends decided to return to see what the conditions were like in their village and to check on their plantations as they had been abandoned for more than four months. Saw Ophar Ngah trod on a landmine that was planted in a rubber plantation.

Saw Win Nyo, a friend of Saw Ophar Ngah, who also went back to the village and is now caring for Saw Ophar Ngah at Hpa-an hospital, spoke to Karen News about the incident.

“We were in the rubber plantation all morning. Only when we were leaving, Saw Ophar Ngah was the last one to leave and he stepped on the mine. It is very sad. He is lucky he is not dead. Now, no one dares to go back to the village. We don’t know where they [militia’s] have planted all the landmines.”

According to Saw Win Nyo, the blast blew off Saw Ophar Ngar right leg from above his ankle and his left leg was also wounded by shrapnel from the mine.

Friends of Saw Ophar Ngah said that although they don’t have to worry about the medical costs, they are in need of support for food for both the patient and the carer.

Saw Ophar Ngah was taken first to Myaing Gyi Ngu hospital, but later transferred to Hpa-an hospital where his leg was amputated.

Dr. Ye Kyaw Thu, a surgeon at Hpa-an Public Hospital who took care of Saw Ophar Ngah’s case told Karen News that he had also arranged for the recovery for the victim.

“We operated on the patient as soon as he was admitted to the hospital. We will continue to give him other necessary treatment for now. The patient can be discharged after a week depending on his condition. After that, we also plan to refer him to the prosthetic clinic at Taungalay and have him recover there until he can walk with a prosthetic leg.”

Displaced villagers from Mae Tha Wor areas said that the danger of landmine in their villages is high as this incident is not the first. A village leader from the area, stepped on a landmine and died on the way to hospital. The villagers said that their livestock left in the village such as pigs and cattle also stepped on landmines.

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