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Efforts to remove unexploded cluster "bomblets" commence in Afghanistan

Efforts to remove unexploded cluster "bomblets" commence in Afghanistan

Working from a list provided by coalition forces of where they used cluster bombs in Afghanistan, the United Nations is helping to remove unexploded "bomblets" released in those attacks, a spokesman for the world body said today.

Eric Falt told reporters in Islamabad that the UN Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan was working to clear the village of Denar Kheil, which "was cluster-bomb attacked by coalition forces last month and is now heavily contaminated by unexploded BLU 97 bomblets."

The onset of winter is complicating efforts to survey the village, according to Mr. Falt. "Given the high risk to the local population, especially children, a UN survey team is being sent to map the exact area of contamination, and following this, a team will undertake surface clearance before it snows," he said.

The coalition has provided the UN with a list of 103 cities where cluster bombs were used. Mr. Falt said that apparently, none of those weapons were used in Kabul city proper, "however there are four confirmed cluster bomb sites on the old road north of Kabul." Halo Trust, a non-governmental organization working for the UN Mine Action Programme, "is almost finished clearing these sites," he added.

The Programme has also almost finished clearing Kabul of new unexploded ordnance, mainly bombs in the 500-2,000 pound range. However, multi-launch rocket systems, anti-aircraft missiles and millions of ammunition rounds continue to pose a threat in the capital city. "Due to coalition attacks on ammunition depots, there is still a lot of unexploded ordnance in and around Kabul City that spewed in various directions when the targets were hit," said Mr. Falt.