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Landmine kills 4 Rohingya children in Myanmar

Deadly landmine explosion happens in forest where Rohingya from nearby villages went to harvest firewood

Kyaw Ye Lynn   | 07.01.2020
Landmine kills 4 Rohingya children in Myanmar File Photo

YANGON, Myanmar

Four Rohingya children were killed in a landmine explosion in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state early Tuesday, according to an official.

A group of more than 10 local Rohingya -- including several teenagers -- were harvesting firewood in the forest near Hteiktoo Pauk village in Kyauktaw Township when the mine exploded around 10.30 a.m. local time (0600GMT).

“Four children, two of them 8 years old and two of them 10, were killed on the spot,” said Aung Thaung Shwe, lower house lawmaker for the area.

He told Anadolu Agency by phone on Tuesday that six other Rohingya -- one adult man and five teenage boys -- were also injured in the landmine explosion.

It is still unclear whether Myanmar’s military or the Arakan Army -- a predominantly Buddhist ethnic group fighting for greater autonomy in the region -- planted the landmine in the forest.

“It is an act of terror as it targets civilians,” said Aung Thaung Shwe.

According to local media reports citing data from civil society groups, around 100 civilians have been killed in Rakhine state by armed clashes since the Arakan Army launched synchronized attacks on police outposts last January, killing 13 officers.

Myanmar’s government has banned the internet in eight townships in Rakhine state and one in adjacent Chin state since last June, accusing the rebel group of promoting propaganda and misinformation online.

The ban is still in place in four Rakhine townships including Kyauktaw, although the government restored access in five townships in late September.

Persecuted people

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience".

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

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