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Six deminers killed in Yemen blast

Nearly 1,000 people were killed or wounded by landmines between 2015 and 2017 [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 April, 2019

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Six experts, whose nationality was not given, died in a blast at a depot containing mines and other explosive devices which were to be destroyed.

Six demining experts were killed in an explosion at an arms depot in Yemen's Red Sea city of Mokha on Thursday, said the Saudi landmine clearance project which employs them.

The project, MASAM, said on its website that the six experts, whose nationality was not given, died in a blast at a depot containing mines and other explosive devices which were to be destroyed.

In January, five foreign experts also with MASAM - two from South Africa, a Croatian, a Bosnian and a Kosovar - died in an accidental explosion in the central province of Marib.

In April 2017, Human Rights Watch said Yemen's Houthi rebels have killed and maimed hundreds of civilians and prevented many of the displaced from returning to their homes, decrying the group's use of deadly land mines across the war-torn country.

In the report, Human Rights Watch said the rebels - who are allied with the forces of the country's former president - have used landmines in at least six provinces since March 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition launched its military campaign.

Steve Goose, director of the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch, said the Houthis and forces of Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh "have been flouting the landmine ban at the expense of Yemeni civilians".

He added that Yemen had banned landmines two decades ago.

Kristine Beckerle, an HRW researcher, said the rights group had found two types of anti-personnel mines previously unreported in Yemen, though she noted the Arab coalition had also used banned weapons.

"It's time to actually hold parties accountable, investigate and publicly report on what's going on," she said.

Beckerle spoke at a joint press conference on Yemen with Jamie McGoldrick, the UN human rights coordinator for the war-torn country, during a conference held in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

HRW also released a photo of one of a dozen claymore-type mines, which release steel balls to a distance of about 100 meters (yards), labelled in Chinese and found in areas that were held by Houthi forces.

At least 988 people were either killed or wounded by landmines in Yemen between 2015 and 2017, according to figures by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

More than four years into the Saudi-Emirati war on Houthi rebels in Yemen, recent figures by ACLED suggest more than 70,000 have been killed since the Riyadh-led military coalition intervened in 2015 to reinstate the government following a rebel takeover of the capital.

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