Myanmar planted banned landmines near Bangladesh border, Amnesty International says

| Updated: October 21, 2017 03:13:58

Rohingya refugees climb up a hill after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh Sept 8, 2017. Reuters Rohingya refugees climb up a hill after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh Sept 8, 2017. Reuters

Myanmar has planted landmines along its border with Bangladesh posing a deadly threat to fleeing Rohingyas, says Amnesty International or AI.


It said on Saturday that it has confirmed that internationally banned antipersonnel mines have seriously injured three people, including two children and reportedly killed a man in the past week.


The UK-based rights body said in a statement that their conclusion was 'based on interviews with eyewitnesses and analysis by its own weapons experts.'


“This is another low in what is already a horrific situation in Rakhine State. The Myanmar military’s callous use of inherently indiscriminate and deadly weapons at highly trafficked paths around the border is putting the lives of ordinary people at enormous risk,” said AI’s Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan, who is now near the border.


AI says some mines were found near Taung Pyo Let Wal, also known as Tumbro in Rakhine State on the edge of the border.


Many have fled the area to a makeshift refugee camp inside Bangladesh, but make frequent trips back across the border to bring supplies or to help others to cross.


Her leg was blown off from the knee down and she is now being treated at a Bangladesh hospital, according to the statement.


The rights group says it verified the authenticity of graphic mobile phone images showing the woman's shredded legs immediately after the blast, reports bdnews24.com.


"Medical experts concluded from the nature of the injury that it was caused by an explosive device that was powerful, directed upwards and located on the ground, all of which is consistent with a landmine," AI said.


Other villagers showed photos of at least one other landmine close to the same location, which Amnesty International has also verified to be genuine.


Four other suspected mine blasts have also taken place this week by a busy crossroad near another village further inside Myanmar in the border area, it said.


They seriously injured two boys aged between 10 and 13 and reportedly killed one man, according to witnesses and local people.


At least one of the mines used appears to be the PMN-1 antipersonnel landmine, which is designed to maim and does so indiscriminately, based on analysis of images by Amnesty International weapons experts.


Citing a June 2017 report, the rights group said the Myanmar Army and ethnic armed groups in Kachin and Shan State planted antipersonnel landmines or improvised explosive devices that killed and maimed people, including children.


Myanmar authorities, however, dismissed media reports over security forces laying landmines along the border.


“Who can surely say those mines were not laid by the terrorists?” the spokesperson for Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi said earlier this week.


 A few days ago, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told Reuters that Dhaka has launched a formal complaint with Myanmar for planting landmines along the countries’ shared border.

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