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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2003 > June
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 30, 2003


Destruction of Stored Landmines in Afghanistan Helps to End Legacy of Suffering by the Taliban

As part of the ongoing humanitarian mine action program in Afghanistan, the Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs in the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs arranged for the rapid destruction of over 10,000 anti-tank landmines strewn in an unsecured ammunition supply point in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province. The Governor of Kandahar Province specifically requested this assistance after it became known that terrorists were creating concealed traps using explosive material from mines stolen from that supply point.

Teams from RONCO, an American company contracted to the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs for humanitarian demining and unexploded ordnance disposal worldwide; the Demining Agency for Afghanistan; and Handicap International (Belgium) safely destroyed the landmines in nine days. Experts had estimated the operation would take four to six weeks. The UN Mine Action Center for Afghanistan certified that the work met internationally recognized standards. Images of the operation can be viewed at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/pix/b/22066.htm.

"The United States does not normally engage in the destruction of stockpiled mines as we prefer to focus on the emplaced persistent mines that pose an immediate threat to civilians," remarked Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr., the Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State for Mine Action, who also serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. "This successful operation demonstrates our ability to respond to situations in several post-conflict environments, ranging from Afghanistan to Iraq, in which cached mines and other types of munitions, small arms and other weapons are poorly secured, widely available and an imminent danger."

"The humanitarian threat from this dump of unguarded mines clearly met the standards for an exception to the U.S. practice of focusing on emplaced rather than stockpiled mines," added Pat Patierno, Director of the Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs.

Released on June 30, 2003

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