Colombo, Oct 21: The Sri Lankan Army Sunday said that over 860,000 mines and booby traps have been removed since the end of the war with the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.
Brig. Dhananjith Karunaratne, commander of the army’s engineer brigade, said that 470,000 anti-personnel mines, 1,400 anti-tank mines, 390,000 booby traps, and other improvised explosive devices have been removed since the end of the 39-year-long conflict, reported Xinhua.
The army media unit quoted him as saying that over 80 percent of the initial 5,000 square km that had been heavily mined by the rebels have now been cleared.
The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) of the US has honored the Sri Lanka Army for having the best Mine Detection Dog Team for the year 2012. The Sri Lankan team was selected for the prestigious award out of 107 teams representing 11 countries, the Sri Lanka Army added.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US Jaliya Wickramasuriya said that before the war-displaced people could be resettled, vast areas of land in the former rebel held north and east parts of the country had to be cleared of land mines.
“The Sri Lanka Army worked quickly to handle the demining process, and they are benefited greatly from the support of the Marshal Legacy institute and other NGOs around the world,” he said.
Sri Lanka announced the completion of the resettlement process this month with most of the de-mining work complete.