In late May 2019, the Irrawaddy reported that one police sergeant was seriously injured during mine clearance training, and ten other police officers received minor injuries.
The news quoted Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun, secretary and spokesperson of the military’s Tatmadaw True News Information Team, who said the training was conducted by a technician from the military.
“We heard that the trainer mistakenly brought a real landmine with the training sample landmines and that a trainee stepped on it and it exploded,” Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun was reported to have said.
It was reported that the incident took place during a training organized to teach police officers in Mandalay Region about landmine safety, detection and the different types of mines.
Surprisingly, the media report stated that as a part of the training, the police sergeant was supposed to “step on a sample M14 plastic landmine while other trainees disarm the landmine and save him.”
This is astonishing and really calls into question whether the military trainer understood how landmines function.
There is a myth spread through popular entertainment that a landmine is armed by stepping on it and only triggered by stepping off. This is however something which only happens in movies or novels as it provides tension in the story. In fact the initial pressure of the foot will detonate an antipersonnel landmine. They are designed to kill or maim, not to make someone stand very still until it can be disarmed.
If this incident was reported accurately, it suggest extraordinary incompetence.
Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun was further quoted as saying, “Normally, real landmines and samples are differentiated by color, however there can be mistakes. We are doing further investigations on this incident.”
While they may have been acting a movie fantasy about how landmines function, the results for the seargent, who was badly injured, is long-term disability in the real world.
URL: Mandalay Police Officer Seriously Injured in Landmine Training, 21 May 2019, the Irrawaddy.