THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – By Catherine Shakdam – As if Iraq needed to be reminded of the horror which has now hijacked its lands and laid siege to its people, Iraqis have now to bare the threat of IEDs – improvised explosive device –
According to a new report published by IRIN this Friday, militants affiliated to Daash, aka, the ISIS – Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham – hundreds if not thousands of IEDs would have been buried in Nineveh Governorate as part of a new terror strategy.
Under incredible and unprecedented duress, refugees face now death or dismemberment by IEDs. Media reports last week already confirmed the death of four mine clearance workers when an IED detonated in Zummar, close to Mosul Dam.
Witnesses said the opening of a bathroom door triggered an explosion causing the property to collapse, instantly killing the men. The group, employed by the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA), run by the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), were working alongside the Peshmerga, the Kurdish military, who had recently won back the territory from IS.
Aid agencies and security forces have called on all civilians and pro-government militants to exert extreme cautious when venturing into wide open areas where Daash militants might have gained access to in recent weeks as they well could be booby-trapped.
“Large numbers of people are at significant risk,” said Nina Seecharan, Iraq country director for UK-based Mines Advisory Group (MAG) in the Kurdistan capital Erbil.
Omer Hassan, a commercial de-miner who went to the scene of the 29 October explosion to help survivors of the accident explained that “There is an immediate need to mark villages like Zummar that are full of dangers,” referring to red posts and flags used by clearance teams.
He further warned that, Daash, “can make booby-traps with everything … You can find a brand-new torch. Daash knows the Peshmerga need it, so they leave them. The Peshmerga picks it up, turns it on…The torches are packed with explosives and you can lose a hand.”
According to the Landmine Monitor, an affiliate of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the most-recently available statistics show up to 1,838sqkm of Iraqi territory is contaminated.