Leaders of a Myanmar rebel movement fighting the country's military junta will stop using landmines in their insurgency, a small, Geneva-based group announced on Thursday in disclosing the latest militant group to sign on to its campaign against targeting civilians in war zones.
"It decreases our capacity, but we can find other means to fight" said Thomas Thangnou, the top political official of the Chin rebels, who have been fighting Myanmar's government for almost two decades on behalf of what it says are hundreds of thousands of persecuted Christians.
Thangnou said Chin officials would provide, to the best of their ability, mapping of more than 2,000 mines laid by forces since 1988 and remove them where possible.
In zones not under rebel control, villagers will be given precise information for marking the mines.
"We try to avoid civilian casualties as much as possible," said Suikhar, a Thailand-based representative of the Chin people who only goes by one name.
The decision by the rebels is the result of four years of negotiations with Geneva Call, a campaign organisation that presses militant and insurgent groups to renounce landmines.
Geneva Call says it is crucial to engage non-state combatants in renouncing land mines because more rebel groups use the weapons than armies do.
It has previously sealed over two-dozen agreements with different militant groups worldwide and is trying to persuade FARC guerrillas and rival paramilitary groups in Colombia on cutting back their mine use.