The Myanmar military has since September laid landmines at telecommunications towers owned by or leased to mobile operators including Norway’s Telenor, media Myanmar Now writes in a recent article.
According to Myanmar Now, several former engineers from the Myanmar telecom company Mytel have told the media that the military has been planting “security landmines” at many of the company’s tower sites in recent months. The planting of security landmines comes following attacks by the anti-junta People’s Defence Forces (PDFs), who used bombs and makeshift explosive devices to target Mytel towers due to the company’s military links.
Myanmar Now has contacted multiple telecom providers including MPT, Ooredoo, and Telenor with requests for comment on the matter but only Norway’s Telenor has confirmed the presence of mines.
A Telenor spokesperson said the practice appeared to happen “indiscriminately across mobile and tower operators,” Myanmar Now writes.
In an email to Myanmar Now, the Telenor spokesperson explained that “several sites have been fitted with anti-personnel mines,” and “Telenor Myanmar is gravely concerned with these practices, as they represent a severe people safety challenge for operations and maintenance staff, and for the communities living around tower sites.”
Meanwhile, Telenor has implemented a tower security scheme that entails sending text message alerts to Telenor subscribers who live near risky towers, advising them to keep away from telecoms infrastructure. Physical warning signs have been displayed on mined towers and are no longer being serviced by Telenor.
According to the Telenor spokesperson, most of the mined sites are owned by tower companies who lease them to Telenor and other operators. In such cases, according to the Telenor spokesperson, it is the tower companies who are obliged to ensure security.
“We are in close dialogue with tower partners on monitoring and reporting suspected mined sites, and reiterate the obligation to physically secure and provide signs and information on all sites,” the spokesperson said.