Thursday, May 08, 2003

Following on from the Five Live interview, Mike Jefferies asks whether I know what mines hit me and Kaveh -- and where they were produced. It's something I'm keen to know myself but I've already got a pretty good idea.

The Mines Advisory Group believes I was injured by a PMN anti-personnel mine, which looks like this:

This mine has probably killed and maimed more people than any other. Originally manufactured in the former Soviet Union, it has also been produced in other countries and has also been found in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iran, Nicaragua, Angola, Mozambique and many other countries. It's nicknamed the "Black Widow," is 56mm tall, 112mm across, weighs 600g and contains 240g of TNT. It's usually buried by hand beneath the surface of the ground and can be set off by as little as 8kg of pressure. Delightfully, it's designed to drive plastic, dirt and bone into the upper regions of the body, so the fact that I escaped with my right knee intact could be regarded as "lucky."

The mine that killed Kaveh was much larger and more lethal. It was probably a Valmara 69 like the one below:

The Valmara 69 is made in Italy and Singapore, although the Iraqis manufactured their own copy. It's a bounding fragmentation mine, sometimes referred to as a "Bouncing Betty." It's 205mm high, 130mm across and contains 597g of explosives. The main charge is surrounded by 2000 metal fragments and the mine is designed to pop out the ground and explode at waist level, spraying red hot shrapnel out in a lethal radius of 27 metres.

What's happened to me has happened. I don't really blame the guys that laid the mines that killed Kaveh and maimed me. They were probably frightened, poorly educated soldiers following orders. What sickens me is that although half of all landmine victims are children -- and approximately 8,000 to 10,000 kids are injured or killed by mines every year -- there are still 14 countries thought to be producing anti-personnel mines. (Sources War Child Canada and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines)

Discuss "Beyond Northern Iraq"


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