Sunday May 19, 2013
Ten Little Girls and One Unexploded LandmineTim King Salem-News.com
I was told in Kabul that Afghanistan has more unexploded landmines than any other country in the world.
(SACRAMENTO, CA) - A landmine explosion in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province killed ten little girls in mid-December. Such a number is unthinkable, yet we should all consider it for this is the price of war and no nation on the face of this earth should ever have to bury ten little children at once. The girls were gathering firewood according to reports, when one unknowingly struck the mine with an ax.
It seems in this case a particularly cruel fate. Afghan girls and women are radically subjugated not just by Taliban, but by the whole damned country with very few exceptions.
Chapahar district governor Mohammad Seddiq Dawlatzai, told AFP the victims ranged in age from nine to thirteen. The explosion injured two other girls. They were taken to a hospital in critical condition.
"An old mine left over from the time of the jihad (against Soviet troops in the 1980s) exploded, killing 10 girls and wounding two others," Mr Dawlatzai said. In case you have never heard this terrible fact, the Soviet Union left behind nothing less than a record number of hidden landmines during their war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989.
Lest we forget that the Soviets ravaged the water supplies and overall environment of this ancient place. Not a single tree was growing on public property in Afghanistan's capitol city in 2006 and 2007 when I was there.
I was told by officials in Kabul, that there are more unexploded landmines in Afghanistan than any other country in the world.
According to figures from the UN, nearly 700,000 mines and more than 15m other explosives left behind from decades of military conflicts, have been destroyed. I observed this activity in Kabul and hold great respect for the bomb ordinance teams that conduct this super dangerous work, those I personally watched work, I believed, were Afghans.
In spite of those efforts, it remains true that more than three decades of war have left Afghanistan one of the most heavily-mined countries in the world.
In testimony for this observer, were many limbless survivors of landmines like the one that critically injured and killed girls from this most recent blast.
Maybe Not Soviet?
While District Governor Dawlatzai says the mine was an old leftover munition from the Soviet era, the area police chief, General Abdullah Stanikzai, believes the mine was placed by Taliban insurgents.
In fact it remains possible that the deadly landmine was laid during any one of three recent conflicts: the 1980s Soviet invasion, the civil war that followed in the 1990's, or during fighting that broke out between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban before their initial defeat in 2001.
The Taliban also plant roadside bombs, or improvised explosive devices (IED), to target western and Afghan troops, and these regularly kill civilians. However it seems this device was planted off the road.
By the first six months of the current year, 1,145 Afghan civilians were killed and around 2,000 wounded, mostly by roadside bombs.
Women and children are said to account for about 30% of this year’s casualties.
I try to imagine how Americans would react to this type of treatment, and I suspect it would not go over well at all. The answer for Afghanistan has always been to build the infrastructure and to help the civilians; rather than wasting money and lives fighting an unwinnable war scheduled to end on a date selected by Obama. When it comes to the passion of Princess Diana, the clearing of live minefields, the need has never been more pressing than it is now.
Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer
Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans; he's covered British Royal Marines and in Iraq, Tim embedded with the same unit he served with in the 1980's.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from traditional mainstream news agencies like The Associated Press and Electronic Media Association; he also holds awards from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs; and was presented with a 'Good Neighbor Award' for his reporting, by the The Red Cross.
Tim's years as a Human Rights reporter have taken on many dimensions; he has rallied for a long list of cultures and populations and continues to every day, with a strong and direct concentration on the 2009 Genocide of Tamil Hindus and Christians in Sri Lanka. As a result of his long list of reports exposing war crimes against Tamil people, Tim was invited to be the keynote speaker at the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, in July 2012. This is the largest annual gathering of North American Tamils; Tim addressed more than 3000 people and was presented with a traditional Sri Lanka ‘blessed garland’ and a shawl as per the tradition and custom of Tamil Nadu
In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005. Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 23+ countries and regions.
Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide; and maintains that the label 'terrorist' is ill placed in many cases; specifically with the LTTE Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, where it was used as an excuse to slaughter people by the tens of thousands; and in Gaza, where a trapped population lives at the mercy of Israel's destructive military war crime grinder. At the center of all of this, Tim pays extremely close attention to the safety and welfare of journalists worldwide. You can write to Tim at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)
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