The International Campaign to Ban Landmines [ICBL] has strongly condemned the reported use of landmines in Libya. About 50 mines have been found in the east, reportedly laid by Libyan armed forces.
“The information we had got through our researcher colleague from Human Rights Watch on the ground in eastern Libya. They have seen evidence that there was a new use of antipersonnel and anti-tank landmines in the area near Ajdabiya,” said Ayman Sorour, executive director of the NGO Protection Against Armaments, a member of the landmine coalition.
The mines were found near a power station.
“It didn’t used to be a mined area before,” Sorour said. Our colleagues at Human Rights Watch have met with one of the engineers of this power station, who knows the area very well, and he confirmed that this area surrounding the power station wasn’t mined before because he and his team used to go [there] many times before the Ghadafi or pro-Ghadafi forces had been to this area the last two weeks.”
There’s currently no evidence that rebel forces are using landmines. The ICBL says on March 25, in Benghazi, that rebel commander Gen. Khalifa Hufter pledged not to use any landmines.
“There might be some landmines already captured from Ghadafi [forces] or…left by the former Libyan forces in Benghazi that might be in the hands of rebels. But we didn’t see, didn’t have any evidence of any use from the rebel side,” he said.
Asked if there had been any injuries or deaths from the landmines, he said, “No, fortunately, no.”
Leave them where they lay
No effort is being made at this time to demine area near Ajdabiya. “As you know,” he said, “this is still an area under conflict between the rebels and [pro] Ghadafi forces…. So it’s very difficult for any demining operation at the moment.”
Landmines are often used as a terror weapon to demoralize opposing forces, not only through deaths, but the loss of arms and legs. But usually the main casualties of landmines are civilians. The ICBL says those in the area have little knowledge how to identify the weapons or how to get out of a mine field safely.
Sorour said another major fear is the injuries that will be caused by unexploded ordinances strewn about conflict areas.