Troops destroy landmines

2009-12-09 12:18

Algiers - Algerian troops destroyed more than 5 700 colonial-era landmines in November, almost half a century after the country gained independence from France, the state news agency APS said on Tuesday.

The mines, mainly antipersonnel ones buried by the French army, were recovered and destroyed in a campaign that is still under way, 47 years after Algeria's independence which came after a fiercely fought independence war.

The total number of mines destroyed up to November 30 was 426 599, of which 358 515 were antipersonnel mines.

The announcement of the latest mine clearance came after scores of nations signed a five-year plan Friday to assist victims of anti-personnel landmines and discourage use of the weapons.

Landmines claimed more than 5 000 victims last year alone, but casualties are rarely reported in Algeria, where France has given the government maps of the minefields to help in clearance.

Representatives of more than 100 nations gathered in Cartagena on Colombia's northern coast and formally adopted the document last week, with a focus on providing specialist care for victims, with improved access and lower costs.

The Cartagena conference reviewed the 1997 Ottawa Treaty that came into force in March 1999 after pressure from victims.