UNAMA condemns killing of 19 civilians in pressure plate IED incidents

2 Oct 2016

UNAMA condemns killing of 19 civilians in pressure plate IED incidents

KABUL - UNAMA condemns two improvised explosive device (IED) detonations on civilian vehicles in recent days that killed 19 civilians in Helmand and Badghis provinces. Both devices used victim-activated pressure plate triggers that are both illegal and indiscriminate.

In the first incident, on 29 September in the Shoaer Langar area, Qadis district, Badghis province, a family returning from lunch in their private vehicle struck a pressure-plate IED emplaced in a culvert. The detonation killed all ten members of the family, including three women, two girls, and two boys. Sources report that Anti-Government Elements had planted the device following ground engagements in the area the previous day.  

In the second incident, on 30 September in the Jump area, Nad Ali district of Helmand province, a group of civilians traveling on a tractor struck a pressure-plate IED. The detonation killed nine civilians, eight of whom were women and small children. Sources reported that families were fleeing the area due to ongoing clashes between Anti-Government Elements and Afghan security forces.

There were no survivors in either incident, with the pressure-plate IEDs killing all occupants of the civilian vehicles which detonated the devices.

“The terrible toll on civilian life caused by indiscriminate pressure-plate IEDs is intolerable and their use may constitute a war crime,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

“These devices continue to indiscriminately kill and maim civilians and spread terror throughout civilian communities. Anti-Government Elements must immediately order their fighters to cease the use of these illegal and indiscriminate weapons,” said Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA.

Victim-activated pressure-plate IEDs function like anti-personnel land mines, which are a prohibited weapons under international law. These IEDs are particularly harmful as they are indiscriminate and are just as likely to be activated by a civilian as by a military object. Pressure-plate IEDs are detonated by any person, including children stepping on them or any vehicles, such as civilian vehicles or tractors driving over them.

UNAMA expresses deepest condolence to the families of those killed in these incidents.