Five killed after leftover mine from Iran-Iraq war explodes near Basra

Five killed after leftover mine from Iran-Iraq war explodes near Basra
2 min read
01 January, 2022
Five people were killed and five others injured on Saturday when a mine dating back to the 1980s exploded near the Iraqi city of Basra, amid a recent increase in such incidents.
Much of Iraq remains littered with unexploded mines and ordnance [Getty]

Five people were killed and five others injured on Saturday in the Rumaila area near the southern Iraqi city of Basra when a land mine dating back to the 1980s exploded, an Iraqi security source has said.

Dozens of people have been killed and injured by mines and IEDs planted across Iraq in previous conflicts.

The number of incidents involving unexploded ordnance has increased recently with Basra province seeing the greatest number of such incidents.

The Iraqi security source, who chose to remain anonymous, told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that those killed and injured were local people camping and picnicking in Rumaila, an oil-rich desert area on the northern outskirts of Basra.

Analysis
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He said that the injured had been taken to hospital, with some of them sustaining critical wounds.

The security source added that “the mine is believed to date from the time of the Iran-Iraq war”, which happened between 1980 and 1988.

Local officials have blamed successive governments which came to power in Iraq following the 2003 US invasion for neglecting the issue of unexploded mines and bombs.

An official from the Mines Department of the Iraqi Ministry of Environment told The New Arab’s Arabic service that the ministry had “prepared a plan to cleanse Iraq’s regions of mines and ordnance, but government support is very weak”.

“There are many complaints from people who call for the removal of mines from their areas,” he added.

“Neglecting this issue has led to dozens of people being killed and injured in recent years. Government support is needed to execute the plans to cleanse areas of dangerous ordnance.”

Perspectives

Last August UNICEF said that 35 children had been killed and 41 injured as a result of mines and ammunition exploding.

Iraq has been through a number of devastating conflicts since 1980 including the Iran-Iraq war, the 1991 Gulf War, and the 2003 US invasion and post-invasion insurgency.

The Iraqi Environment Ministry recently said that 2880 square kilometres of Iraq still contained mines and various forms of unexploded ordnance, even though 52% of the areas which contained mines had been cleansed.