Saturday, April 30, 2005

Four Injured by Landmines Along Border with Eritrea

Four Ethiopians have been injured along the disputed border with Eritrea after a spate of blasts from freshly planted landmines, a senior UN official said on Thursday.

Phil Lewis, head of the UN’s Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC), said three anti-tank mines had exploded and damaged vehicles in the last month. Another landmine was discovered before it exploded.

They were the first of newly planted landmines along the 1,000 km contested frontier that has separated Ethiopia and Eritrea since early 2004.

"These are all newly laid landmines," Lewis told reporters in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. "They are of a concern because there have been four of them in the last month. These weapons are indiscriminate so anyone in the wrong place at the wrong time could be killed."

He said they were unaware who had planted the landmines.

All of the incidents had taken place close to Humera, in the far western border region, some 850 km north of Addis Ababa.

One landmine was planted on a road used as a supply route for the Ethiopian army, who are dug in opposite Eritrean forces along the border. The others were planted on side roads.

"There have been four of these anti-tank mines discovered since 25 March," he said. One was discovered freshly covered. Three others detonated under a water truck and a truck picking up stones, Lewis said.

"They are all on side roads," he noted. "They have not been put on main roads; they have been put on agricultural roads."

The landmines are Belgium-made and were used during the two-and-a-half year conflict that broke out in May 1998 and claimed tens of thousands of lives.

IRIN Africa

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