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UN halts mine clearance in southern Afghanistan after deadly attack

2 June 2005 The United Nations has temporarily suspended the clearing of landmines in southern Afghanistan today after two local deminers were killed and five others wounded by a roadside bomb.

According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), following the deadly attack, which killed two men from the Mine Detection Dog Centre (MDC), all mine clearance work has been called off along the Kandahar-Herat highway and on secondary connector roads in Helmand and Farah provinces.

The blast in the southern Helmand province was the third attack on deminers in two weeks. Five of them have been killed. UNAMA says that mine clearance will only resume after the security situation has been assessed.

“We condemn these targeted attacks against deminers and call on the Afghan authorities to bring to justice the perpetrators,” said Dan Kelly, of the UN Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (UNMACA). “These brave men risk their lives in minefields every day to improve the situation for their fellow Afghans. They should not be attacked.

”After nearly two decades of war, Afghanistan is strewn with landmines, which kill hundreds of people every year. The Mine Action Programme for the country (MAPA) is the largest programme of its kind in the world and has cleared over 100 million square metres of land contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance in the past 12 months – more than four square metres for every Afghan citizen.

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