Two children were killed in Yinmabin Township, southern Sagaing Region, when a remnant grenade launcher round from recent junta raids exploded inside their house on Thursday, according to local sources.
The victims were identified as Htet Phone Naing, 5, and his cousin, Hein Thurein Phyo, 10 months, and the explosion reportedly took place at around 8:30am on December 16 in Yin Paung Taing village.
“The child was playing with the projectile near the baby’s cradle. He threw it up in the air and it fell on the hard concrete floor and detonated. The explosion tore apart the face and both arms of the child who was playing with it,” a Yin Paung Taing villager said.
The 5-year-old died minutes after the explosion and the baby died while preparations were being made for his treatment. The children’s bodies were cremated in the afternoon of December 16.
A relative of the deceased children said that the 40mm grenade round was a remnant from military raids on the village in August, which had included both ground and air operations.
“The parents found the grenade while cleaning and didn’t know it was an explosive, so they kept it,” the relative said.
The military launched an airstrike on Yin Paung Taing on August 11 and then occupied the village for three days, during which 19 civilians were killed, including a 10-year-old child.
Although the local defence teams attempted to clear all remnant explosive devices inside the village after the military left, they said they were hindered by security conditions in the region. They also claimed they were conducting sessions to teach local people how to report undetonated explosives when they found them.
In a similar incident, an accidental 40mm grenade round detonation killed two 7-year-old boys in Gangaw Township, Magway Region, in June.
The accidental detonations of landmines and other explosive weapons have caused frequent injuries and deaths throughout Myanmar in 2022. The highest number of casualties have occurred in Sagaing Region and Shan and Rakhine states, according to data from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
UNICEF reported in August that a total of 206 people, of whom more than one-third were children, had fallen victim to these devices in Myanmar in the first seven months of 2022.