IS’s Latest Threat: Laying Landmines

Militants from the group calling themselves Islamic State (IS) are booby-trapping land and buildings with improvised explosive device (IEDs). This creates new misery for displaced Iraqi families trying to return home and increases dangers for government forces working on the front line.

Four mine clearance officers were killed and two other officers were seriously injured last week during mine clearings operation when an IED was accidentally detonated inside a house in Zummar. This groups of workers, like many of them, are employed by the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA) of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to work alongside with the Peshmerga (the Kurdish military) to clear mines in the regions where they had just won back from IS. This incident happened close to Mosul Dam in Nineveh Governorate, in Northern Iraq.

Aid agencies are warning displaced Iraqis not to rush home in territories which were recently reclaimed from IS because of the risk of mines and other explosive remnants of war (ERWs). They also have expressed concerns about the danger in the mined border areas between different military front lines.

Iraq is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world due to decades of conflict and territorial disputes. According to the Landmine Monitor, an affiliate of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the current available statistics show up to 1,838sqkm of Iraqi territory (nearly two times of the total area of Hong Kong) is contaminated.

Another report from the Landmine Monitor in August 2013, citing the most recent statistics from Iraqi government agencies, said that more than 29,000 people have been victims of landmine accidents in the country since the late 1980s. Nearly 15,000 of those casualties – including 6,000 deaths – were in Kurdistan. [IRIN]

Meditation on Scriptures:

The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. (Psalm 146: 9-10a)

Pray for the displaced people in Northern Iraq:

  1. May the Lord watch over the displaced and homeless and sustain them. May He frustrate the ways of the IS and reign in the land of Iraq forever;
  2. Pray for the safety of the frontline officers while clearing the landmines;
  3. Pray for good arrangements for the refugees to return back home safely.