Landmines, as well as unexploded shells and
bombs lying about, have caused over 70,000 casualties (killed and wounded) in
Afghanistan during the last two decades. Most of the victims were civilians.
But a massive mine clearing operation, over the past fifteen years, has sharply
reduced the number of casualties. Last year there were 581, compared to 821 in
2006.The Afghan government destroyed
the last of its landmine stocks at the end of 2007. Most of the mines and
munitions involved were Russian made, a leftover of the Russian troops who
operated in Afghanistan through most of the 1980s.
In Afghanistan, the demining effort
has, so far, removed some 350,000 anti-personnel mines, nearly 19,000 anti-tank
mines and about seven million pieces of unexploded ordnance (shells, grenades,
bombs). The demining effort should be finished in another four years. Nearly
all the 8,500 de-miners are Afghans, and even the Taliban leave them alone
(most of the time).