New footage from the mine clearing effort in Karabakh

Rachel Brooks

April 29, 2021 

Screencapture of the footage by Trend, see the full footage on Trend’s channel, linked below. 

Today, Trend TV shared footage from the landmine clearance objectives in the newly-liberated Karabakh. The footage follows the crews of Azerbaijan’s mine action task force ANAMA as they used metal detection devices to search for mines below the surface.

“Within a visit to the liberated Zangilan and Gubadly districts held on Apr.29, the bureau’s crew prepared footage of the demining process, during which the detected mines and other unexploded munitions were neutralized,” reported AzerNews, on April 29.

Trend News reported further details of the mine clearance effort in Gubadly.

“So far, a 3.2-million-square-meter-area has been cleared of mines in Azerbaijan’s Gubadly district by the National Agency for Mine Clearance of Territories of Azerbaijan on the basis of an order from the Azerbaijani Ministry of Agriculture and Azersun Holding, Head of the department of the agency Bahruz Namazov said, Trend’s Karabakh Bureau reports,” wrote Trend News. 

“”Proceeding from the appeal of Azerenergy OJSC, an area of ​​24,000 square meters has been cleared from mines for the construction of a substation at the entrance into the Gubadly district,” head of the department said,” also wrote Trend.

Landmines continue to be a major concern of repatriating the liberated territories. Due to the lack of maps of the areas where landmines have been placed, the risk to personnel and civilians is high.  

Last week, Republic Underground news hosted a roundtable of experts to address the issues of landmine clearance and rebuilding the Karabakh in the wake of mines. During this panel, Esmira Jafarova, Board Member of the Center of Analysis of International Relations, called on all interested parties to cooperate as this was paramount to the process.

“We understand that there is only one way and that is to try and cooperate,” said Jafarova, yet she noted that, for this to work, Armenia will have to also lend a “helping hand.” She stated that Armenia had given one map, that, when ANAMA investigated the locations of the mines, they could find nothing, which Azerbaijan concluded was a deliberate attempt to mislead Azerbaijan,” see the full minutes transcript from Republic Underground. 

Also at the landmine panel, a survivor of a landmine blast shared his personal account of the impact of mines: 

“I felt myself in the dark for 5-10 seconds and one of my legs was taken away by a mine. My fellow soldier and I were waiting for the evacuation team. An hour later, the group evacuated us from the ceasefire zone. My pain was indescribable. As a result of the bandage which I had tied to my leg, my chances of survival increased. After treatment in a military hospital, I was transferred to the Main Hospital of the Armed Forces,” said Amirli Farahim Farman oghlu. See his full statement. 

Defense analyst Benjamin Minick explained the risk and impact of landmines: 

“These are designed to take out vehicles for the most part. They mine roads so that people can’t pass places. It helps to secure parameters. In some cases, there are anti-personnel mines, and they are specifically designed to work against people. The Geneva Convention limits the United States and our abilities to use these things, limits how they can be used, where we can place these things. There’s a set of rules that goes along with it, believe it or not, there are rules to war. Armenia does not subscribe to that. Mines that are designed to destroy vehicles are mixed with anti-personnel mines. They didn’t care, they didn’t keep track. They wanted to inflict the maximum damage that they could and they wanted to leave a lasting impression,” said Minick, see the video above for more.

A trauma expert likewise shared insights on the status of mine awareness: 

Ilkana Goja, trauma specialist and survivor of Karabakh War I, noted that many of the IDPs and civilians impacted by the first conflict had scarce knowledge of the mines, which resulted in casualties.

“As far as I remember, when we were moving one of the IDP camps in beginnings of the 2000s, to one of the settlements in the Fizuli region, it was a lot of work for us to raise awareness of the mines, and despite that work, there were explosions and there were a couple of families who were victims of the mines,” said Goja,” see the transcript.