Mine accident in Baghlan still remembered by villagers

1 Apr 2009

Mine accident in Baghlan still remembered by villagers

KABUL - Of all the tragic stories surrounding de-mining in Afghanistan one sticks out for the people of Baghlan in the north east of the country when 15 children were injured after they tried to sell a piece of unexploded ordinance in exchange for ice cream.

The May 2008 incident shocked the town of Baghlan. “Two of my daughters, five and seven years old, were badly injured in that incident,” recalled Abdul Basir. “I want people not to touch anything they don’t know about which they see lying around their villages. They should inform the de-mining organizations.”

“The blast site was a very ominous scene. Bleeding children were scattered around and later on we found out that the incident happened because the school children were attempting to buy ice cream with a piece of unknown metal,” said Usta Farid one of the elders in the Naw Abad village in the Baghlani Markazi district.

“When I saw the children were buying ice cream I came to buy one for myself. As I arrived at the spot, the blast happened and my neck was injured,” said Muhammad Gul, 16, from Naw Abad.

According to the Mine Action Programme, 14,152 anti-personnel mines, 45 anti-tank mines and more than one million pieces of unexploded ordnance were destroyed in the four north eastern provinces of Afghanistan in 2008.

Mine risk education courses have also been given to more than 107,000 people in the north east but still 84 people fell victims to mine-related accidents.

Sayed Agha Atiq, the Mine Action Coordination Centre’s manager for the north east said most incidents were caused by people using unexploded ordinance to go fishing or by people collecting mines for selling.

By Shamsuddin Hamedi, UNAMA