DUSHANBE, April 29, 2009, Asia-Plus  -- Residents of rural areas remain at the mercy of anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordnances (UXOs) that are a legacy of the country’s disastrous civil war in the 1990s.

The latest tragedy took place in the Rasht district (eastern Tajikistan), where two children were seriously wounded in a cluster bomb explosion.

According to the Tajik Mine Action Cell (TMAC), the 11th grade student Dilshod Karimzoda and the 4th grade pupil Kholid Rahmonkhouja who were pasturing cattle were seriously wounded as cluster bomblet blew up.  They children are currently in local hospital in serious condition.

Cluster bombs dropped from the air contain hundreds of bomblets. A substantial number fail to explode when they reach the ground but they can go off later at the slightest touch.

Since 2004, TMAC, which is a governmental structure responsible for all mine action related issues in Tajikistan, has monitored and inspected more than 900 villages and some 215 mine hazard areas have been uncovered.  The demining teams have cleared more than 2.3 million square meters of land and some 12,000 land mines and UXOs have been destroyed.  The demining teams have to clear another more than 17 million square meters of land.

According to the preliminary data, some 800 people have become victims of mine explosions in Tajikistan since 1992; some of them have been killed and some theirs have been injured.  Many of those, who have survived, have become disabled for life, he added.

In 2008 alone, the demining teams cleared more than 1 million square meters of land and more than 5,000 mines and more than 470 UXOs, including 66 cluster bombs, were found and neutralized, TMAC said.