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Myanmar laying landmines on Bangladesh border: reports

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Myanmar has been laying landmines across a section of its border with Bangladesh for the past three days, according to reports citing two government sources in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.

The sources say the purpose may be to prevent the return of Rohingya Muslimsfleeing the violence.

Bangladesh will on Wednesday formally lodge a protest against the laying of landmines so close to the border, the sources – who had direct knowledge of the situation but asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter – told Reuters news agency.

Since the latest round of violence began in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, at least 400 people have been killed, and nearly 125,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, leading to a major humanitarian crisis.

“They are putting the landmines in their territory along the barbed-wire fence” between a series of border pillars, one of the sources told Reuters.

Both sources said Bangladesh learned about the landmines mainly through photographic evidence and informers.

“Our forces have also seen three to four groups working near the barbed wire fence, putting something into the ground,” one of the sources said.

“We then confirmed with our informers that they were laying landmines.”

The sources did not clarify if the groups were in uniform, but added that they were sure they were not Rohingya.

Reacting to the reports, Phone Tint, Rakhine’s minister for border affairs, told Al Jazeera: “We did not do such a thing.”

Manzurul Hassan Khan, a Bangladeshi border guard officer, told Reuters earlier that two blasts were heard on Tuesday on the Myanmar side.

Two similar blasts on Monday had already prompted speculation that Myanmar forces had laid landmines.

One boy had his left leg blown off on Tuesday near a border crossing before being brought to Bangladesh for treatment, while another boy suffered minor injuries, Khan said, adding that the blast could have been a mine explosion.

A Rohingya refugee who went to the site of the blast on Monday – on a footpath near where civilians fleeing violence are huddled in what is being described as “no man’s land” on the border – filmed what appeared to be a mine: a metal disc about 10cm in diameter partially buried in the mud.

He said he believed there were two more such devices buried in the ground.(Agencies)

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