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A Look at Types of Landmines

October 10, 1997

OSLO, Norway (AP) _ There are three basic types of anti-personnel mines, all of which are designed to maim as much as to kill. Wounding a soldier means other troops have to leave battle to help the victim.

Blast mines are hidden underground and triggered when stepped on. They generally cause injury to legs and feet.

Fragmentation mines are placed above ground and are triggered by a trip wire. They usually cause injury to the upper limbs, torso and head.

Bounding fragmentation mines are thrown by a charge into the air where they explode, causing shrapnel injury to the upper limbs, torso and head.

Hidden in the dirt, these ``silent soldiers″ can’t tell the difference between an enemy soldier, a mother gathering firewood, a farmer working his field, or a child playing near home.

``It’s not like you can step wrong, and then go _ oops _ didn’t mean to step there. Your leg is gone,″ said Cathy Hewison, an Australian physician who has worked in Afghanistan, where up to 10 million mines are buried.

While the weapons are cheap to make and deploy _ at a cost of about $3 each _ they are difficult and dangerous to remove.

Each mine costs about $1,000 to deactivate, according to the United Nations. For every 5,000 mines removed, one de-miner is killed and two are wounded, according to the Red Cross.

In battle, militaries seldom pause to draw accurate maps of minefields. Even if they do, land mines often don’t stay put.

A plastic, waterproof mine can be washed down a hillside into a river and then float downstream to kill or wound a child many miles away from the battlefields, years after a conflict has ended.

Also, land mines make no distinction between the friendly and enemy soldier.

Bobby Muller, founder of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, said mines, mainly U.S. ones, were the largest cause of American casualties in Vietnam.

``Land mines are not a friend to the U.S. soldier. They are a threat to the U.S. soldier,″ ′ he told the Army Times newspaper.

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