Myanmar

Mu Traw District Short Update: Skirmishes, indiscriminate shelling by the Tatmadaw and landmine contamination in Dwe Lo and Bu Tho townships, March and April 2021

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This Short Update describes events that occurred in Dwe Lo and Bu Tho townships, Mu Traw District from March 28th to April 5th 2021. The Tatmadaw indiscriminately fired mortar shells at several localities, resulting in displacement and unexploded ordnance contamination. The shelling occurred in a context of renewed fighting between the Tatmadaw and the KNLA following the February 2021 military coup. Local civilians are now afraid for their security. New landmines were also planted in certain areas and now pose a security threat to local communities. On April 5th 2021, a civilian sustained injuries after stepping on a landmine in Na Koo Hkee village tract, Dwe Lo Township.

Dwe Lo and Bu Tho townships

Between March 28th and April 5th 2021, Tatmadaw’s Infantry Battalion (IB) #19 and Light Infantry Battalions (LIB) #341, #434 and #340 indiscriminately fired mortars shells at the villages [and localities] around their army camps. These battalions are based near Hpapun Town, along the boundary between Dwe Lo and Bu Tho townships. They [Tatmadaw] fired mortars rounds because they received information about the presence of Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) troops near their army camps.

Mortars landed in the following locations:

  • Section 3, Section 4 and Ah Naunt Hpeh Kan Section, Hpapun Town

  • Hkler Hkoh village, Ma Htaw village tract, Dwe Lo Township

According to a civilian from Hpapun Town: “On April 3rd [2021], the Tatmadaw indiscriminately fired mortars into the community. One of the mortar rounds exploded next to my house. Some of them landed in the monastery compound. Some of them did not explode.” Although there were no casualties, all the local civilians were afraid and worried for their security. They worry that the situation might get worse in the future, but they do not know where to flee to: “We cannot access social media so we do not have access to any update [about the] situation. Therefore, I want to know: where should we flee to? What is the best place to go?”

On April 4th 2021, the KNLA attacked the Koo Seik Tatmadaw camp, Ma Htaw village tract, Dwe Lo Township. KNLA soldiers also blocked the military road with logs and landmines. In response, the Tatmadaw indiscriminately fired mortars rounds at nearby villages. Local civilians now live in fear of shelling and landmines. They also face travel restrictions [they do not dare to travel because of the security risks associated with the presence of Tatmadaw soldiers and landmine contamination].

On April 5th 2021, LIB #341 fired mortar rounds at K--- village, Ma Htaw village tract, Dwe Lo Township, prompting local villagers to flee to M--- village, Klaw Hta village tract, Dwe Lo Township. LIB #341’s commander ordered the M--- village administrator to tell local villagers to report any IDPs staying at their houses. He also ordered the village administrator to make two separate lists: a list of the villagers who did report hosting IDPs to the village administrator; and a list of the villagers who did not. [The commander did not specify why he needed these lists.]

On April 5th 2021, a civilian from Hpapun Town stepped on a [newly-planted] landmine at Nga Inn Su junction in Na Koo Hta village, Na Koo Hkee village tract, Dwe Lo Township. He was taken to the clinic in LIB #434’s camp for treatment. Local villagers do not know how badly he was injured. [KHRG was not able to obtain more information regarding this case.]