Anti-personnel mines designed to maim an enemy remain scattered about Afghanistan and must be cleared before more than 5 million refugees in Pakistan and Iran can return home, United Nations officials say.
The mines are estimated to range in number from hundreds of thousands to 5 million. Some look like toys and are small enough to fit in the palm of a person's hand. If picked up, they can blow away a hand; if stepped on, a victim can lose a foot.Zia Rizvi, spokesman for the U.N. Economic and Humanitarian Program for Afghan refugees, said the land mines have to be found and defused before a billion-dollar rebuilding program can begin.
The devices are believed to have been laid by Soviet and Afghan government forces during their nine-year war against Moslem insurgents. The insurgents also have laid a number of anti-tank devices.