A policeman was killed and four civilians were injured when a freight train derailed on its way to Myitkyina in northern Burma, after being struck by an explosion on Wednesday evening.
Locals said the train, travelling to Kachin state’s capital Myitkyina, blew up near Kyarkwingyi village in Hopin township around 10pm.
“Five of the train’s carriages derailed and a policeman identified as Ko Myint Naing was killed. We don’t know the exact number of casualties. The explosion took place on the third car; in the passenger carriage,” explained a Hopin resident.
The government has accused the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) of planting a mine on the tracks. It is the latest in a string of government accusations against the rebel group, since stepping up its winter offensive against their headquarters in northeastern Burma.
Earlier this week, the government provided militia training to villagers in northern Shan state after claiming that the KIA had extorted money and forcibly recruited locals to the rebel army.
The KIA, which is fighting for greater autonomy and ethnic rights in Burma, has previously denied carrying out any attacks on railways in Kachin state and says the Burmese army is seeking to justify its military assault on their territories.
In recent weeks, the army stepped up its military offensive against the rebels, and has drawn international condemnation for its use of air strikes. Humanitarian agencies have also accused them of carrying out indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
The army insists the air strikes were necessary to reclaim a hill post used by rebels to target their troops.
Locals in Hopin township told DVB that although there has been no fighting nearby, they are too afraid to go out after dark, because they fear an attack by the government.
The KIA has been locked in a bloody battle with government troops since a 17-year ceasefire broke down in June 2011. Over 75,000 civilians have been displaced and numerous attempts at peace-talks have failed.
The ongoing conflict severely dents the reformist credentials of President Thein Sein, who has successfully brokered ceasefire deals with ten out of eleven major armed groups in Burma.