9 June 2021, Sittwe
The deaths of four men from a bomb blast in Ponnagyun Township during the first week of June marked a grim continuation of lethal explosions in Arakan State despite a cessation of active hostilities in the region for more than seven months.
At least 10 people, including children, were killed and injured in at least 10 incidents involving explosive remnants of war (ERWs) in Arakan State during the period from March to May.
And in the early hours of June 4, the four men in Ponnagyun Township were killed by an explosion as they were returning from hunting frogs.
“What type of explosive is difficult to predict. A case has been filed in connection with the bombing,” said U Win Ko Ko, chief of the Ponnagyun Township police station.
Landmine awareness groups say the rising casualty count is due to the stockpiling of unexploded ordnance and a lack of awareness.
Landmine awareness activities in Arakan State are mainly carried out by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Rakhine Ethnics Congress (REC).
U Shwe Baw Sein, chairman of the REC, said that although the REC had conducted landmine awareness campaigns in conflict-affected Arakan State townships, locals were uninterested.
“We are working to educate the public about the explosive remnants of war, but some are less interested. Some village administrators no longer see a need to educate the public about these ERWs and landmines. They said the Tatmadaw and the armed group have cleared the landmines,” he said.
The Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (AA) have observed an unofficial ceasefire for almost eight months in Arakan State, but casualties from landmines and ERWs have continued to rise. The danger has been cited as contributing to a reluctance among civilians displaced by the conflict (IDPs) to return to their homes.
At least 33 people were killed and 66 others were injured in explosions from landmines and ERWs during the two years of fighting between the military and the Arakan Army in Arakan State, according to figures from the REC.