Civilian Ordered to Guide Burma Army Troops Killed by Landmine in Paletwa

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A 45-year-old Chin civilian ordered to take Burma Army troops to the front of line of fighting with the Arakan Army (AA) in southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township was killed on the spot after stepping on a landmine.

The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) reported that Aung Lun, from Shin Madein village, was asked on February 21 to guide soldiers from the Tatmadaw’s Light Infantry Battalion 544.

Lun Bel, Aung Lun’s brother, is quoted in the CHRO report as saying that Aung Lun died at around 10:00 a.m. on February 25.

“My brother was killed on the front line in the Pechaung area, three days [walk]from our village. It’s near the Bangladeshi border,” Lun Bel said.

Another man from Shin Madein, Kein Toe, was also called up with Aung Lun to guide the troops.

“Kein Toe told me that the soldiers in front of my brother didn’t step on the landmine. My brother was walking in the middle of the column, but he stepped on it. His belly was opened, and he was killed on the spot. The captain and other soldiers also got serious injuries,” Lun Bel explained, adding that Aung Lun’s body was buried on site rather than being brought back to the village.

He is survived by five children.

A Burma Army officer reportedly asked Kein Toe how much compensation should be paid to Aung Lun’s family in accordance with Chin tradition; Kein Toe suggested that the amount was about 1.5 million kyats (US$977).

A strategic commanding officer based in Khamauk-wa offered money to Aung Lun’s relatives through Kein Toe on March 3, Lun Bel said.

However, the family members have reportedly been afraid to collect compensation from the military office in Khamauk-wa, and have asked for help from the Paletwa Township administrator Koe Aung.

The Burma Army and AA have repeatedly clashed in Paletwa Township in recent months. Both forces have allegedly set up landmines along the border area.

Government forces have long ordered civilians to guide them through conflict areas at great risk, citing their knowledge of local geography.

In September of last year, five villagers from Nga Tein set off a landmine in the Pechaung area; 28-year-old Phit Lite was killed, and Tain Tin, aged 18, was injured.

The following month, a local man, Huay Tang, stepped on a landmine while searching for edible plants in the forest outside his village of Yap Chaung.

He had to seek treatment for his injuries at Sittwe hospital in Rakhine State.

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