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UN in Afghanistan condemns deadly attack on de-miners in central region

10 June 2014 – The top United Nations official in Afghanistan today condemned the killing of eight Afghan de-miners and the wounding of another three in an attack in what remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

"De-miners carry out vital work in Afghanistan – they help make the country safer for their fellow civilians and, as such, any violence which targets them is particularly reprehensible," said the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš.

According to reports, the de-miners were working for the Mine Detection Centre (MDS), a non-governmental organization and implementing partner of the UN-supported Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA).

They were clearing an area of the Tobakai desert in the Mohammad Agha district of Logar province, in the country's central region, when anti-Government elements reportedly detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) and then ambushed them.

"Attacks directed against civilians are serious violations of international humanitarian law, which parties to armed conflict – including all anti-Government elements – must uphold," UNAMA stressed.

The UN Mission has extended its condolences to the families of those killed and wished the wounded a speedy recovery.

"The widespread and indiscriminate use of mines and munitions during more than 30 years of conflict has led to Afghanistan being one of the most heavily mined countries in the world," MACCA reported.

According to the Centre's figures, the country still has over 4,500 areas, covering some 521 square kilometres of land, contaminated with mines and explosive remnants of war, despite progress in de-mining efforts.

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