Soviet bombs still killing people in Afghanistan

Orient Net 2019-12-15 12:28:00

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Gholam Mahaiuddin sighs softly as he thinks of his 14-year-old son, who was killed in the spring by a bomb dropped last century in the hills of Bamiyan province in central Afghanistan.

"We knew the mountain was dangerous," said Mahaiuddin, who found his son's remains after he didn't come home one day.

"We were aware of mines but we could not find them. They were buried in the soft sand after the rain."

Forty years after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan -- and three decades since the conflict ended -- the war's legacy continues to claim lives across the country.

Mahaiuddin's son, Moujtaba, was killed along with two friends, aged 12 and 14, on May 17 when they went looking for berries in this idyllic landscape where chocolate-coloured mountains are topped with snow.

When none of them had returned the next day, Mahaiuddin and other residents from his tiny village, called Ahangaran, started searching.

"I found my son with just his chest and head left," Mahaiuddin recalled.

Moujtaba and his friends had been killed by what is known as an AO-2.5 RTM submunition.

The cluster bombs were used extensively by Soviet forces, who dropped them like deadly rain across Afghanistan in the years following their December 1979 invasion.

Mahaiuddin, 44, remembers the war well. He said he used to bring tea to mujahedeen fighters who would hide in the mountains and launch ambushes against Soviet patrols.

More recently, the cluster weapons have been used in Syria, according to a 2016 Human Rights Watch report.

"It is the most dangerous, it is very sensitive to vibrations," said Bachir Ahmad, who heads a team of deminers from the Danish Demining Group (DDG).

Nahida, 11, smiles shyly under the little white scarf covering her hair.

She remembers Moujtaba well. "He was my cousin. I cried when I learned that he was dead," she said.

Asked if she knew anything about the war with the Soviets, she replied: "I don't know where the bombs came from."

The humanitarian organisation has been working in several Afghan provinces since 1999 to clear explosives left from a war most of the country's current, young population never lived through.

Based on AFP