Myanmar landmine blast wounds German tourists, guide

Two German travellers and their local guide were wounded by shrapnel from a landmine in north Myanmar, close to an area of recent heavy fighting between ethnic minority rebel groups, officials said Wednesday.

The pair, both 24, were taken to hospital in Myanmar's second largest city Mandalay late Tuesday evening after sustaining injuries earlier in the day when they triggered the mine near rural Kyaukme township in war-torn northern Shan State.

Neither were seriously wounded, according to local officials.

"Villagers carried them to the local hospital and we took the victims from there," Tin Maung Thein, the head of a local aid group Zevita, told AFP.

An AFP photographer saw the pair arrive at Mandalay hospital late Tuesday night. The female tourist, Wiebke Rosler, was seen in a wheelchair with a small bandage on her face while her companion Felix Zimmermann was walking wounded carrying a drip.

A military source stationed in the area said that Rosler had suffered injuries to her right arm and forehead, while Zimmermann was unable to hear in his left ear after the blast.

The army source, who asked not to be named, said the guide Sai Khun Oo had suffered scattered shrapnel wounds to his legs.

Myanmar is littered with landmines as a result of decades of bitter fighting between ethnic minority armed groups and the national military, which held the country in the iron grip of dictatorship until 2011.

The country is one of only a handful of nations still laying the explosives and so far tentative peace negotiations have failed to stop the continued use of the devastating bombs, or to open the door for any significant efforts to remove them.

According to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, about 45 people were killed and more than 200 were injured by mines in 2014, although it conceded that accurate figures were difficult to ascertain and said the real numbers may be far higher.

Heavy fighting in Shan state erupted in February between two rebel groups - the Restoration Council for Shan State (RCSS) and the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) - raising fears that peace efforts could be fracturing and temporarily displacing several thousand people, many in Kyaukme.