File photograph: Tamil women carrying out de-mining work in Thunukkai, March 2010 (Russell Watkins / Department for International Development)
At least two Tamil women who were working as de-miners in Kilinochchi have been admitted to Jaffna Teaching Hospital’s intensive care unit, after a landmine detonated on Thursday evening.
The women have both suffered “severe injuries to their heads and chests,” according to Xinhua. They have been named as 25-year-old Gunanendran Renuka and 26-year-old M Mekala.
Both women were engaged in de-mining work in the Muhamalai area when the explosion occurred.
De-mining remains to be extremely dangerous in the North-East, with several workers having been injured or killed in recent years. Mines and cluster munitions continue to litter the region following the Sri Lankan military 2009 offensive that massacred tens of thousands of Tamils.
Leaked photos obtained by the Guardian in 2016 showed demining teams excavating cluster munitions from Kilinochchi and Chalai in Mullaitivu, sites of heavy bombardment by Sri Lankan forces during the armed conflict. Though the Halo Trust did not comment on the photographs, it confirmed that it had recovered a total of 42 cluster munitions in several sites around the Tamil North-East during de-mining work in 2011 and 2012.
The Sri Lankan government continued to deny it has ever deployed cluster munitions, as it took over the presidency of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CMC) in Geneva last year.