Scourge of the earth: The global landmine menace

Europe Uncategorized

Richard Powell, a freelance reporter who spent time in the post-Bosnian war minefields, investigates the scale of the problem as UK organisations prepare for Landmine Action Week.

Following Ivica, the chief de-miner of one of the Balkan’s biggest minefields, into an ‘uncleared’ field, I take great care to ensure every footstep I take fits perfectly inside his.

As we navigate metre-wide paths marked by red tape on the ground, he told me how two of his staff had been killed as many months ago, digging around PROM-1 ‘jumping mines.’

These, he explains, are spring-loaded mines that leap to waist-height before sending out hundreds of white-hot steel fragments that kill or maim up to 50 meters away.

This minefield was located in Karlovac, one of the frontlines of the Bosnian war, 50 kilometres south of the Croatian capital, Zagreb.

Seven years after the war, it remains one of the most densely mine-laden areas within a country whose 1.2 million anti-personnel mines cover more than 4,000 square kilometres of countryside.