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PAN, April 6, 2011

Landmines kill almost 52 civilians per month last Afghan year

According to Mine Detection and Dog Centre (MDC), 276 people were killed due to unexploded bombs over nine months last Afghan year

Almost an average of 52 civilians lost their lives per month last year due to landmine explosions in Afghanistan, an official said on Wednesday.

The number of civilian casualties caused by landmines decreased last year, compared to the previous year, Haider Raza, the head of Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA), told Pajhwok Afghan News.

landmines kill scores in Afghanistan every year

According to Mine Detection and Dog Centre (MDC), 276 people were killed due to unexploded bombs over nine months last Afghan year, compared to 508 people dead over the same period the previous year.

"About 650 kilometres of areas are still not cleared of unexploded bombs. The hidden bombs are threatening the lives of about four million people in the country," the MACCA official said.

In 2010, about 1010 locations were cleared of landmines during mine-clearing operations in 175 areas across the country, Haider Raza said, adding the clearing work helped minimise the threat to some degree.

About 33,700 anti-personnel and 1,000 anti-tank mines were among a huge quantity of different types of explosives and bombs recovered during clearing operations that year, he said.

Until the end of 2011, he hoped, nearly 70 percent of the country's mine-infested zones would be cleared. "It is hoped the entire country will be landmine-free until 2013," he said.

Last year, more than one million people, 42 percent of them women and 72 percent children, received training on how to protect themselves from landmines as part of public awareness programme, Raza said.

Currently, the MACCA has $77 million (3.4 billion afghanis) in fund for landmine clearing projects and the centre needed another $244 (11.08 billion afghanis) for the purpose, he said.

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