Nepal marks becoming land mine-free
"I congratulate Nepal on this remarkable achievement and pay tribute to the brave work of the de-mining personnel,"
- U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Jeremy Browne
A huge controlled explosion marked the end of Nepal's deadly land mine areas and the beginning of it as Asia's second land mine-free country alongside China.
The areas, outside Kathmandu, were the last patches of ground where land mines were planted by Nepal's army during the Maoist insurgency wars.
One area, on the slopes of the 7,000-foot Phulchowki Mountain, is favored by hikers for the abundance of wildlife and bird-watching opportunities in particular. The other area is near Lalitpur, a quiet small ancient city about a 20-minute ride outside Kathmandu.
A peace accord implemented in late 2007 ended 10 years of conflict in which the Nepalese army planted an estimated 11,000 land mines. The majority of mines were planted near elevated military observation posts, telecommunication towers and airports, areas open to the public during peace time.
From January 2006 to this June, four people were killed and 19 injured in mine incidents, said the Informal Sector Service Center, a Nepalese human rights organization that welcomed the international land mine clearing effort.