5m landmines buried in Angola

2002-06-27 15:34

Luanda - Between four and five million landmines are spread across Angola and are killing or injuring about 60 people each month, the government says.

Angola has about 80 000 people mutilated by mines, Social Assistance Minister Joao Baptista Kussumua said late on Wednesday.

The mines, a legacy of decades of war in the Southwest African country, are hindering the return of civilians to their villages after the government and Unita rebels ended their civil war almost three months ago, Baptista Kussumua said.

Thousands of land mines, many of them in unmapped minefields, were planted in agricultural fields and along roads, as well as around key military positions, during the war.

Foreign non-profit groups helped clear mines in a major nationwide operation in the four years after the government and Unita signed a peace accord in 1994. When that agreement unravelled in 1998 and they returned to war, more minefields were planted.

Roughly four million people, about one-third of the population, were driven from their homes by the fighting and are dependent on food aid.

Angola's civil war erupted after its 1975 independence from Portugal. - Sapa-AP