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A record number of landmine clearing personnel were killed in Afghanistan in 2014, a United Nations backed mine clearing organization said Thursday.

“The total of 34 deminers killed in 2014 is almost equal to the total number over the previous four years combined”

– Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA)

LandmineSearchMany of the deaths took place when mine clearing personnel from the Mine Action Program in Afghanistan (MAPA) came under attack while working. One major attack took place in June, and another in December. The latter incident left 12 de-miners dead in the southern province of Helmand. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, though the Taliban has a history of targeting deminers. MAPA has cleared over 23,000 minefields worldwide.

According to the ICBL-CMC, mines killed 487 Afghan children in 2014 – half of the world’s total child mine victims for that year.

For context, it is worth remembering that the Northern Alliance (some members now in government) were responsible for shooting 8 deminers from an Afghan demining NGO back in 2000. The “crime” of those deminers was to work on a UN contract in a Taliban controlled area.

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