The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has condemned two improvised explosive device (IED) detonations on civilian vehicles that killed 19 people in Helmand and Badghis provinces in recent days.
“The terrible toll on civilian life caused by indiscriminate pressure-plate IEDs is intolerable and their use may constitute a war crime,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said in a statement issued today.
“These devices continue to indiscriminately kill and maim civilians and spread terror throughout civilian communities. Anti-government elements must immediately order their fighters to cease the use of these illegal and indiscriminate weapons,” added Mr. Yamamoto, who is also the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan.
The terrible toll on civilian life caused by indiscriminate pressure-plate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is intolerable and their use may constitute a war crime
According to the Mission, both devices used victim-activated pressure plate triggers that are both illegal and indiscriminate, and there were no survivors in either incident.
The statement said that in the first incident, on 29 September in Badghis province, a private vehicle carrying a family of 10, including three women, two girls, and two boys, returning from lunch struck a pressure-plate IED emplaced in a culvert. Sources reported that anti-government elements had planted the device following ground engagements in the area the previous day, the statement added.
In the second incident, on 30 September in Helmand province, a group of nine civilians, eight of whom women and small children, traveling on a tractor struck a pressure-plate IED, the statement said. Sources reported that families were fleeing the area due to ongoing clashes between anti-government elements and Afghan security forces, the statement added.
Pressure-plate IEDs are detonated by any person, including children stepping on them or any vehicles, such as civilian vehicles or tractors driving over them.
“UNAMA expresses deepest condolence to the families of those killed in these incidents,” the statement said.