Two villagers sustained injuries after accidentally stepping on concealed landmines allegedly planted by the Jahtu Zup People Militia Force (PMF) in Hpakant township, Kachin State.
The PMF, which is under the Burma Army, blocked and mined four roads leading to a gold mine located in the area of Kachin Independence Army (KIA) Battalion 14 near San Pya, Awng Ra and Bankok villages.
The village headman of Jahtu Zup told KNG that Ye Ko, 30, who lives in his village, injured his leg after walking over a hidden explosive device on 23 June. The man, originally from the Irrawaddy Region was on his way back from the mine when he detonated it on the road from Tanai to Lido. Ye Ko is being treated at a hospital in Myitkyina.
The second man, who’s from Namti in Mogaung township, was also on his way back from the mine when he detonated the explosive device a few days earlier.
A resident of Jahtu Zup requesting anonymity said the PMF is trying to attack the KIA, but ”only causing trouble for the local people”. In early June, the armed group laid mines around Awng Ra, San Pya and between Bankok and Wara Zup.
“They’ve blocked all roads in the area… Local people are suffering a lot,” says another villager, explaining that after the KIA took over, the PMF no longer receives taxes from miners and is therefore trying to sabotage the operation.
Last May, the KIA destroyed two excavators at the mine owned by Min Zin Thant. A few days after the KIA Brigade 2 attack, the PMF leader called about 30 local gold traders to his camp and told them that his men would shoot anyone who sold food or other items for the KIA Battalion 14 camp, which is under Brigade 2.
A local, who requested anonymity, told KNG that Min Zin Than was angry about the attack in Jahtu Zup along the Tanai Lido road and had told the gathering that he’d block the road to the camp by 1 June.
According to another villager, who also asked that his name not be mentioned, he explained that the KIA had curtailed gold mining in the area since October last year, but the PMF was still using backhoes to mine the precious metal in Jahtu Zup. The KIA decided to take action against the PMF last autumn after residents complained of extortion and assault by their soldiers at the checkpoints to the mining blocks.