Land mines take heavy toll on civilians and soldiers in Abyan
The mines were planted by Al-Qaeda militants before their withdrawal June 13. Up to 3,000 mines have exploded, killing many citizens and soldiers since the military started clearing the area mid- June.
An official source within a military team specializing in land mine removal in Abyan said that they started removing land mines June 18, following the withdrawal of Al-Qaeda militants to Azan.
Nineteen soldiers have died, with around 200 civilians and soldiers wounded from the mines. The first three days of removal saw the most deaths. A specialized team from the Military Engineering Unit was in charge of removing land mines from the area, the source said.
Colonel Qaed Haithm Atif Halboob, the head of the Military Engineering Unit in the Southern Military Region, said, “Currently, the death toll is rising. We don’t know exactly how many have been killed or injured by the mines. Two officers, one land mine specialist and a large number of civilians have been killed in Zinjibar.”
Halboob said, “The mines are homemade explosives. Militants use cylinders and refrigeration gases to make them. These mines aren’t like traditional ones. They have been planted in roads and public places to intimidate people and kill bystanders.”
He said, “Removing the mines will continue until the area is completely cleared. There are currently six teams. Two teams are in charge of clearing Zinjibar. Another team is clearing Al-Kood and Shuqra also has one team. Two teams are in Jaar. There are also two ordinance removal teams, one of which is in Zinjibar, and the other in Jaar.