DUSHANBE, November 22, Asia-Plus  - Another Tajik combat engineer has become victim of anti-personnel mines in the country that are a legacy of the civil war in the 1990s.   

Parviz Mavlonqulov, project coordinator, Tajik Mine Action Cell (TMAC), told Asia-Plus that 20-year-old Tajik soldier Daler Bekov suffered serious injures of the right hand and eyes when an anti-personnel mine exploded during his work in the minefield Qirgochak in the Rudaki district.  Bekov was taken to a hospital in Dushanbe. 

The incident took place at the beginning of this week, Mavlonqulov said.      

 It is already the second incident in the Qirgochak minefield this year.  As it had been reported earlier, the landmine accident in the Qirgochak minefield on June 27 killed a 22-year-old Azam Abdusattorov, a Tajik soldier who was working in the field.  He was seriously injured and died on the way to a hospital.  

We will recall that a French expert was killed when a landmine exploded in Tajikistan on April 19, 2006.  The incident took place in the border area near the Halqobod village, Khatlon’s Panj district.

Warrant Officer Gilles Sarrazin worked for the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD), which is one of the OSCE''s implementing partners in its mine clearance activities in Tajikistan.  He suffered severe injuries when an anti-personnel mine exploded during his clearance work in a minefield on the Tajik-Afghan border.  He died of his injuries at a hospital in Panj.  

Azam Asrorov, a Tajik soldier who worked with Sarrazin, was also wounded in the blast. He recovered in a hospital in Dushanbe. 

The FSD has been active in this country since 2002 and has been carrying out technical surveys and demining operations since 2003.  The FSD is the only international demining operator in Tajikistan and currently employs 149.

According to TMAC, its demining teams have cleared more than 500,000 square meters of the mine-strewn areas in Tajikistan and destroyed some 2,500 anti-personnel mines and 800 items of unexploded ordnances (UXOs) so far.  

Demining teams have to survey and clear another some 25,000 sq km of land to be cleared of mines.  Most of the mines in the former Soviet republic were laid during the civil war, but they can also be found along Tajikistan’s common borders with neighboring Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

Russian border troops, who were stationed in the country in the 1990s, reportedly laid minefields on the border with Afghanistan, according to the Landmine Monitor Report 2005 released by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).

Tashkent began planting mines on parts of its undemarcated border with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in 1999 to stave off incursions by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) militants.  Since that time, 71 Tajiks have been killed and 84 others have been injured in landmine accidents on the Uzbek border.  30 percent of victims of the landmine accidents on the Uzbek border are underage children.   

In 2003, Tajikistan acceded to the 1997 Ottawa Convention. According to the Convention, Tajikistan is expected to destroy all anti-personnel landmines and clear its territory of them by 1 April 2010.