Nobel Peace Laureate Campaign Denounces Taliban Use of Landmines in Pakistan's Swat Valley

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Nobel Peace Laureate Campaign Denounces Taliban Use of Landmines in Pakistan's Swat Valley

GENEVA - The International Campaign to Ban Landmines
(ICBL) denounces recent use of antipersonnel landmines by the Pakistani
Taliban (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan) in Pakistan's Swat Valley.
According to reports from the area including most recently from Human
Rights Watch, an ICBL member, residents of Mingora, the epicenter of
the fighting, have seen Taliban militants laying antipersonnel mines in
the town.

Landmines could rapidly claim casualties among the civilians fleeing the conflict zone.

"The humanitarian situation in northwest Pakistan is already
extremely tense and the civilians are struggling to protect themselves
and their families. We are appalled that recently laid landmines come
as an additional threat in the region. Not only does landmine use pose
an immediate and direct menace to civilians, but it will also have
long-term consequences on these populations," said Raza Shah Khan,
Director of the Sustainable Peace and Development Organization (SPADO),
ICBL member in Pakistan. SPADO will soon start a mine risk education
program in the internally displaced people's camps so that civilians
are aware of the threat when they go back to their homes. SPADO is
making materials available and asking the local media to help in
informing the population of the mine danger.

According to Human Rights Watch, Swat residents still in the valley
and people fleeing into the towns of Swabi and Mardan have said that
Pakistani Taliban laid landmines in eight places in Sohrab Khan Chowk,
a square in the center of Mingora, and four places in Sharifabad, a
village near the Haji Baba area about three kilometers from Mingora.
Some Taliban reportedly warned residents that they would be blown up if
they walked on the mines. The Pakistani army media cell in Mingora told
the ICBL that the army has encountered victim-activated improvised
explosive devices and factory-made antipersonnel and antivehicle mines
in the Swat Valley, which it attributes to the Pakistani Taliban and
"foreign elements."

Human Rights Watch said that because the area where the fighting
continues is a closed military zone with journalists and human rights
monitors barred from entering, it is currently not possible to verify
this information independently. The area is under indefinite curfew,
lifted only to allow civilians to flee.

In addition to the Pakistani Taliban, Landmine Monitor has
previously reported other armed groups operating in Baluchistan, the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Northwest Frontier
Provinces to possess and use antipersonnel mines. Firoz Ali Alizada,
mine survivor from Afghanistan and ICBL's Treaty Implementation Officer
said: "Most
governments in the world, and many non-state armed groups, have given
up the use of antipersonnel mines because of the unacceptable suffering
they cause to civilians during and after conflicts. We urge the Taliban
in Pakistan to stop laying mines that threaten their own people.
"

Pakistan is not a State Party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which
comprehensively prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and trade of
antipersonnel mines. Pakistan has previously used mines along its
border with India and along the Line of Control in Kashmir.

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The International Campaign to Ban Landmines is committed to an international ban on the use, production, stockpiling, and sale, transfer, or export of antipersonnel landmines.  

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