"Landmines may cause further casualties near LoC: experts" (INDIA)

Experts engaged in rescue and relief operation in the devastating earthquake hit areas feared further casualties due to landmines, if immediate measures were not taken before allowing national and international rescuers to travel the areas close to the line of control (LoC).


Since the residence on both sides of the LoC have been allowed to cross the border and assist each other in this hour of need, there are worries that landmines planted by the two nuclear armed neighbors may pose serious threats to their lives.

"There is no doubt that the two countries might have planted landmines on both sides of the LoC during peace time and they could become serious threat to those survived the heavy quake or then the rescuers," an add worker feared but pleaded for anonymity.

He said besides landmines, there is possibility of Unexploded Ordnances (UXOs) in abundance in the area, which security forces of the two countries used to fire on each other's positions.

However, military spokesman, Major General Shoukat Sultan when approached told the News that neither aid workers nor residents would be permitted to travel the areas close to the LoC before clearing them of any possible threats.

"First I would like to make it clear that no body would be allowed to visit areas close to the LoC according to their own will. And secondly if we felt need of aid workers in those areas, they would be cleared of all such threats," said General Sultan.

He said local inhabitants would be allowed to cross over the LoC on specific points agreed upon the two neighboring states.

"Though the areas situated near the LoC had not suffered any heavy damage in the quake, rescure and relief teams would be allowed to travel once these areas are cleared of landmines," said the military spokesman.

Von: 22 October 2005 (The News International)

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