A 47-year-old man from southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township was killed by a landmine explosion after carrying an injured Burmese soldier to safety.
Philipa, of Don Chaungwa village, had spent three to four days in the forest with other villagers cutting bamboo when Burma Army troops approached them and asked them to carry an injured government soldier to another location.
It is unclear if the men had a choice, as Khonumthung reported in October that Burma Army soldiers forced locals and internally displaced people to serve as porters in Meezar, some 18 miles from Don Chaungwa.
“He didn’t step on landmine when they went to pick up the injured soldier but he stepped on the landmine when they returned,” a Meezar villager who was close to the victim told Khonumthung News.
Philipa lost his leg in the blast and died en route to his community. The explosion occurred between Pouktuwa and Ponnyinwa villages in Oakthiwa village tract.
He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Upon hearing the news of the villager, Chin State government spokesperson Soe Htet said that local authorities, township officials and the social ministry could help people injured in the ongoing armed conflict between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army in the region. He described locals as “innocent victims.”
Southern Chin State has seen intensifying armed conflict between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army in recent years. It is considered a war zone, with thousands of people internally displaced by fighting. Landmines are a concern particularly for farmers, who are frequently killed or injured on their way to and from their shifting cultivation sites.